Cough is one of the commonest symptoms presented to general practitioners.1,2 It may signal the presence of serious disease, be a symptom of a minor upper respiratory infection or merely a tic. To meet the demand for relief MIMS lists over 90 preparations containing over 50 ingredients. In 1982 prescriptions for cough medicines cost the NHS £17 million while in 1984 over-the-counter sales reached £38 million (cough and cold remedies comprise by far the largest category of OTC sales).
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