Evaluation of antitussive agents in man

Pulm Pharmacol. 1996 Oct-Dec;9(5-6):299-308. doi: 10.1006/pulp.1996.0039.


Methodology to evaluate the efficacy of antitussive drugs rely largely on subjective methods and cough counts. There are few studies in cough due to natural disease especially using objective techniques. This paper presents data from a series of randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trials in cough due to both chronic bronchopulmonary disease and acute upper respiratory tract infections. In these studies, cough was quantified using a standardized and validated computerized system for the acquisition and multidimensional analysis of the cough sound. Key objective parameters like cough counts, intensity, latency and total effort expended were studied. Guaiphenesin and bromhexine showed significant expectorant effects in patients with productive cough due to chronic bronchopulmonary disease. Differences were observed in speed of action, and objective and subjective measures, that probably indicate differences in drug action. More recently, three studies evaluated the antitussive drug dextromethorphan in non-productive cough due to uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infections. Reproducible cough suppressant effects were demonstrated after a single 30 mg dose using objective measures of cough counts, latency and total effort. These results establish the sensitivity and robustness of the cough quantitation methodology in the objective evaluation of cough treatments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitussive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bromhexine / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / drug therapy*
  • Cough / etiology
  • Dextromethorphan / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Expectorants / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Guaifenesin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Time Factors


  • Antitussive Agents
  • Expectorants
  • Guaifenesin
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Bromhexine