In response to questions raised over the efficacy of cough medicines, PAGB would like to highlight that European regulators (including the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK), and other regulatory agencies worldwide support the use of over-the-counter cough products for providing relief of coughs. Studies support the efficacy of their active ingredients.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration recently conducted a review of children's medicines, which included efficacy reports for all cough products. The expert group concluded that there was an adequate efficacy;risk balance for children over six; and by definition for adults.

Sheila Kelly, Executive Director of PAGB says: "It is important for both adults and children, suffering from self-limiting cough during a cold or flu episode, to have access to a wide range of effective over-the-counter cough treatments. We believe they remain both safe and effective if used according to the instructions on the pack. Those products on the UK market have successfully demonstrated their efficacy through decades of use by millions of consumers, and their acceptance by the MHRA means people can continue to rely on OTC cough remedies when treating themselves and their children. However, if they have any concerns they should seek advice from their doctor or pharmacist."

Research carried out for PAGB in 2005 showed that in 86% of cases people used OTC cough mixtures to treat their coughs, whilst 8% sought advice from a doctor or pharmacist. Other PAGB consumer research found that in 90% of cases, cough medicines were described as effective and 90% of people would use the products again to treat the same problem."

If people are concerned about using a cough medicine they may visit the doctor unnecessarily, increasing the burden on the NHS. When they get there the doctor is likely to prescribe a cough mixture. The British National Formulary, which is the doctor's prescribing bible, says that when there is no identifiable cause, cough suppressants may be useful, for example if sleep is disturbed.

The Proprietary Association of Great Britain