I was intrigued when I saw the headline on the BBC News ‘Child cold drugs under scrutiny‘. The article reports:

“A review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found “no robust evidence” that many popular remedies work in children.”

I was intrigued as I thought – this is old news! I did a quick search on TRIP and found the 2008 Cochrane Systematic Review ‘Over-the-counter medications for acute cough in children and adults in ambulatory settings‘. This concluded:

“There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medicines in acute cough. The results of this review have to be interpreted with caution due to differences in study characteristics and quality. Studies often showed conflicting results with uncertainty regarding clinical relevance. Higher quality evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of self-care treatments for acute cough.”

I was also convinced we’d answered a question on it, so search TRIP Answers and found this Q&A from 2006 ‘Is there any role of cough mixture in treatment of cough?‘ which found an earlier version of the above Cochrane Systematic Review – from 2004.

So, since at least 2004, it has been explicitly stated that there is no evidence for OTC cough medicines.

The biggest question for me is not ‘Why the interest by the MHRA now?’ but the more important ‘Why no interest until now?’