Experts cast doubt over effectiveness of cough medicines

Britons could be wasting billions of pounds a year on cough remedies that do little to soothe their symptoms, according to a new report.

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According to consumer watchdog Which?, many of the over-the-counter medicines such as Benylin, Covonia and Seven Seas have little scientific backing to support their 'soothing' claims.

The assessment, carried out by Which? and a panel of medical experts, found that in many cases the effectiveness of such remedies is "unproven", and questioned the claims made by some of the UK's biggest cough medicine names.

Investigating Benylin's Chesty Coughs Non-Drowsy, which claims to work "deep down to loosen phlegm, clear bronchial congestion and make your cough more productive, Which? experts suggested the makers provided no evidence to support their claims, saying the studies which had been used to show the effectiveness of active ingredient, guaifenesin, has been low quality.

Similarly Benylin's Tickly Coughs remedy was found to consist of 50 per cent sugar, and its claims of effectiveness were "unproven".

Other over-the-counter pharmacy products were met with scepticism from the panel of experts, including Seven Seas Jointcare Be Active tablets, where the three ingredients were found to be "well below effective levels", Bach Rescue Remedy and Bio-Oil.

A spokesman for Which? told the Daily Mail: "We spend billions on over-the-counter pharmacy products each year but we've found evidence of popular products making claims that our experts judged just aren't backed by sufficient evidence.

"Companies should be upfront with the evidence behind the claims they make so that consumers can make an informed decision."

However, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: "All medicines licensed in the UK have demonstrated efficacy. It is a legal requirement for the licence holder to be able to justify, at all times, the efficacy of the medicinal product."

What do you think? Are cough medicines an expensive waste of money? Leave your comments below...