Antihistamines for Colds


The next issue of The Medical Letter (November 25, 2013) will include an article on a new combination of the opioid hydrocodone and the first-generation H1– antihistamine chlorpheniramine that will be marketed as Vituz for treatment of cough and cold and allergy symptoms. Hydrocodone (in combination with acetaminophen for treatment of pain—Vicodin, Lortab, and others), as we wrote 2 blogs ago, will likely soon be reclassified as a Schedule II controlled substance because of concerns about its abuse.

One thing has to be said for hydrocodone: it will suppress a cough, which is more than can be said for chlorpheniramine or diphenhydramine (Benadryl), both of which are ubiquitous in over-the-counter cough and cold concoctions. So what are they doing there? They are there for sedation, which has plusses and minuses. And maybe to dry up secretions, which may not be such a good idea…

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