Study shows no benefit from active ingredient in common cold medicine

May 9, 2014 by Eric Peters

(Medical Xpress)—Glyceryl guaiacolate ether (GGE), the active ingredient in many popular over-the-counter cold remedies, is unlikely to make it easier to cough up phlegm when delivered in the recommended dose, according to a Virginia Commonwealth University study.

A total of 295 subjects completed the eight-day, multi-center clinical trial in which sputum samples were collected and measured for their volume and properties. At the end of the study, authors concluded that "extended–release GGE administered at the recommended dose is no more effective than a placebo in changing sputum properties."

The study was published in the May 2014 issue of the journal Respiratory Care. Bruce Rubin, M.D., the Jessie Ball DuPont Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the VCU Medical Center and physician-in-chief of the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, is a lead author.

"This study is consistent with smaller studies that have shown that guaifenesin has no measurable effect on sputum properties or clearance when taken by otherwise healthy adults who get a common cold," Rubin said. "Although we did not study people with chronic bronchitis or other mucus problems, it is very unlikely that any benefit perceived by people who take medications containing guaifenesin is due to clearing out airway mucus."

More information: Agathe Hoffer-Schaefer, Henry J Rozycki, Melissa A Yopp, and Bruce K Rubin, "Guaifenesin Has No Effect on Sputum Volume or Sputum Properties in Adolescents and Adults With Acute Respiratory Tract Infections," Respir Care, May 2014 59:5 631-636; published ahead of print September 3, 2013, DOI: 10.4187/respcare.02640

Related Stories

Doubling up on cold, flu remedies may harm liver

January 30, 2013

(HealthDay)—Taking too much acetaminophen, an active ingredient in many commonly used drugs for fever and pain relief, including Tylenol, can cause liver damage, experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warn.

Bioactive paper will revolutionize point-of-care diagnostics

July 24, 2013

A pair of University researchers have received a $600,000 CIHR award to develop a bioactive paper that aims to provide an inexpensive, point-of-care diagnostic tool to measure bronchitis in patients with airway diseases, ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet May 09, 2014
This is a badly written article.
"Study shows no benefit from active ingredient in common cold medicine"
vs
"...when taken by otherwise healthy adults who get a common cold."
&
"...we did not study people with chronic bronchitis or other mucus problems."

Silly !!
IIRC, guaifenesin helps shift snot from deep in your lungs, not from your sinuses. Antihistamines *may* help there, by mitigating the eye-watering, nose-streaming itching.

( Your mileage may vary. Follow medical advice etc etc etc... )

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.