Cough pharmacotherapy: current and future status

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2011 Aug;12(11):1745-55. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2011.576249. Epub 2011 Apr 28.


Introduction: Chronic cough is responsible for a significant illness burden in the community. Refractory cough causes substantial quality-of-life impairment in people with this problem. Neuromodulators for sensory neuropathic cough and new compounds to block transient receptor potential (TRP) receptors hold promise for chronic cough and upper airway hypersensitivity.

Areas covered: The authors examine current evidence on the new concepts of chronic cough that relate to the study of idiopathic/refractory cough, the role of central nervous system control of cough and the role of laryngeal irritability and sensory neuropathy in cough. Compounds in development to block TRP receptors, treatment for a neuropathic disorder with neuromodulators and cough suppression with opioids, especially codeine and morphine, are investigated. Relevant randomized control trials and case reports were identified through a PubMed search of English-language literature referring to these concepts.

Expert opinion: The concept that sensory neuropathic disorder may underlie some cases of chronic cough is useful in characterizing cough, understanding its mechanisms and guiding drug development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antitussive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / drug therapy*
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / physiopathology
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Nerves
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / therapeutic use
  • Quality of Life
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / metabolism


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antitussive Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels