Bmj Usa: Editorial

Keeping the doctor away

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E102
  1. William J Hueston (, MD professor and chair
  1. Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC

    Over the counter medicines have secondary benefits

    This article originally appeared in BMJ USA

    Just about everyone can agree on two things about the common cold: Everyone will get one and everyone wants to get over it as quickly as possible. Given the size of the commercial market for cold-relief products and the motivation of cold sufferers to get better as fast as possible, it is no surprise that cold-relief products are so popular with both drug manufacturers and consumers.

    It is therefore unfortunate that the systematic review by Schroeder and Fahey (BMJ USA page 207) shows that, for cough symptoms associated with an upper respiratory tract infection, over-the-counter products do not seem to work very well.

    But before we abandon all hope and give in to the viruses, we should note that the review does not necessarily show that cough suppressants are ineffective. Take the case of guaifenesin, for example. While Schroeder and Fahey point out that …

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