Cough can be one of the most annoying symptoms patients may have. Often times the cough is more disturbing to the spouse or coworkers. Patients seeking help with a chronic cough often suspect it is related to a lung condition and in some cases this is true. However, the large majority of chronic cough complaints are due to upper airway problems. As I have related in the past, the three most common reasons for chronic cough are: Post nasal drip (about 85%), Gastric reflux (GERD), and finally some type of lung disease. Sorting through the potential causes of chronic cough can, at times, be frustrating both for the physician and the patient. Providing a successful therapy can be difficult. Despite a search for evidence of the three most common reasons for cough, some adult patients continue to have refractory cough (cough which does not respond to any therapy) or simply unexplained chronic cough.

For those patients with refractory or unexplained cough, help may be on the way. A new drug treatment, with a compound called gefapixant, was shone to be effective and safe. This drug blocks a specific receptor site associated with cough. As with all medications, some side effects have been noted. In this case a taste-related sided effect caused 14% of the test subjects to discontinue the medication.

This product is not yet on the market, but promises to offer some hope for the most difficult sufferers of chronic cough. Help is on the way.