Cough Medicine

03 October 2018

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The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) seeks to reassure Australians that cough and cold medicines containing pholcodine have a long history of use and a well-established, favourable safety profile.

Pholcodine is used as a common cough suppressant and is an active ingredient in some cough and cold products available over-the-counter in pharmacies.

In Australia, cough and cold medicines are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) and products containing pholcodine have been used by Australians for more than 30 years. The TGA is one of the most highly respected regulators in the world.

Reports of a link between pholcodine use and anaphylactic reactions to neuromuscular blocking agents during surgery are hypothetical. There are many uncertainties and inconsistencies in what's known as the 'pholcodine hypothesis,' and a causative effect has not been demonstrated. The reports do not present any new data or research to support their claims. The TGA noted, via Channel 9, that an 'international review found evidence for the link was weak but that it continues to monitor the issue.'

ASMI and our members continue to monitor the safety of cough and cold products containing pholcodine and encourage Australians to seek the advice of a healthcare professional if unsure.