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27-08-2012 | General practice | Article

Gabapentin gives chronic cough relief


Free abstract

medwireNews: The anti-epileptic drug gabapentin can relieve coughing and other symptoms among patients with long-term refractory chronic cough, according to a Lancet study.

Patients who received gabapentin for 10 weeks had significantly greater improvements in the primary outcome of cough-specific quality of life than did patients given placebo. Moreover, significantly more gabapentin-treated patients achieved a clinically meaningful improvement in this outcome after 8 weeks.

The study included 62 patients with a cough lasting 8 weeks or longer, without active respiratory disease or infection, 32 of whom were assigned to gabapentin (up to a maximum 1800 mg daily) and 30 to placebo. All patients had previously tried other treatments, including over-the-counter cough suppressants, oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, codeine or opiates and acid suppressants, without success.

Gabapentin led to significantly greater reductions in the frequency and severity of coughing and was generally well tolerated.

The researchers say their findings support the theory that persistent cough with no obvious cause is related to central sensitisation, also implicated in neuropathic pain.

They note that once treatment ended the positive effects of gabapentin were lost -supporting its antitussive effect.

The team, from Australia, explains that chronic cough is an increasing clinical problem, currently affecting more than one in 10 people.

Lead author Dr Nicole Ryan (University of Newcastle, New South Wales) said in a press statement that the findings "are very promising and raise hope for many people with refractory chronic cough - a condition that can be both psychologically and physically disabling and for which no effective drugs are available - who now have a potential new treatment option".

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price