Medicine: Cough-Remedy Caution

The worst thing for a cough may be cough medicine, says the Medical Letter, a biweekly newsletter edited by physicians for physicians. Taking aim at nonprescription cough syrups and elixirs, which contain as many as five drugs, the editors warn that "there are no reports of well-controlled trials" showing that such mixtures are effective. Nor, warns the Letter, are they safe.

Multiple-drug remedies include a cough suppressant like codeine or dex-tromethorplran, which may be useful if a doctor prescribes the right amount (about 20 milligrams for adults, five to 15 for children). But...

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