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Review: mucolytic drugs reduce exacerbations, illness days, and antibiotic use in chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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 QUESTION: In patients with chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), do mucolytic drugs reduce exacerbations or days of illness?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching the Cochrane Airways Group register of studies (compiled by searching Medline, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, and CINAHL, and hand searching respiratory journals and meeting abstracts). Reference lists of articles were scanned, and researchers in the field and pharmaceutical companies were contacted.

Study selection

Studies were selected if they were randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trials of oral mucolytic drugs taken regularly for ≥ 2 months by adults who were > 20 years of age and had chronic bronchitis or COPD. Studies on inhaled mucolytic drugs, combinations of mucolytic drugs with antibiotics or …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr P J Poole, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.