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Gabapentin could be ‘viable alternative’ for chronic cough

Gabapentin is a successful treatment for chronic cough and could be a 'viable' future treatment, say researchers.

Their small randomised controlled trial showed the drug resulted in a significant improvement in cough-specific quality of life, cough severity and cough frequency, compared with placebo.

The study of 62 patients found the drug was well tolerated during the 10-week course, although 31% of patients on gabapentin reported nausea and fatigue – mostly managed through dose reduction – and 10 patients dropped out of the study.

The Australian researchers calculated a number needed to treat of 3.58 to produce a clinically meaningful improvement in cough-related quality of life, and said the effects could be due to inhibition of the urge to cough within the cerebral cortex.

There was no difference between the drug and placebo in cough reflex sensitivity, urge to cough or laryngeal dysfunction.

With further studies to back up the findings, gabapentin could be ‘a viable alternative to current chronic cough treatment' especially in those for whom other treatments have failed, the researchers concluded.

Lancet 2012, online 28 August


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