Dextromethorphan and codeine: objective assessment of antitussive activity in patients with chronic cough

J Int Med Res. 1983;11(2):92-100. doi: 10.1177/030006058301100206.


Dextromethorphan, the most widely used cough suppressant in the U.S.A., was compared with codeine, the traditional European antitussive, in a double-blind, crossover trial using both an objective and subjective assessment of efficacy in sixteen patients with chronic, stable cough. Both preparations, at a dose of 20 mg, were similarly effective in reducing cough frequency. Dextromethorphan lowered cough intensity to a greater degree than codeine (p less than 0.0008) and was considered the better antitussive by the majority of patients (p less than 0.001). In view of its lack of side-effects, its safety even in overdose and its non-narcotic status, the increasing trend in Europe to use dextromethorphan as a substitute for codeine in the treatment of cough is to be welcomed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Codeine / therapeutic use*
  • Cough / drug therapy*
  • Dextromethorphan / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levorphanol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Levorphanol
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Codeine