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Review: lack of evidence exists for effectiveness of over the counter cough preparations for children with upper respiratory tract infections

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 QUESTION: In children with upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), are over the counter (OTC) cough medicines effective for relieving cough?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group specialised register, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, Medline (to 1999), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (to 1999), the U.K. Department of Health National Research Register (December 2000), personal files, and bibliographies of relevant studies; and by contacting authors, pharmaceutical companies, and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain.

Study selection

2 reviewers independently selected randomised controlled trials (RCTs) if OTC cough preparations were tested in children (<16 y of age) with acute cough (<3 wks in duration) associated with URTIs, a placebo group was included, and cough outcomes were reported. Exclusion criteria were chronic cough (>3 wks in duration or caused by chronic underlying disease), …

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  • Sources of funding: NHS R&D National Primary Care Career Scheme.

  • For correspondence: D K Schroeder, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK. Email k.schroeder{at}