You’re the cough kings

Never been one for playing by the rules, Dr Livingstone is asking pharmacists to ignore a government campaign about patients with a three-week long cough visiting their GP

You pharmacists do get over-excited by coughs. You have expectorants for phlegmy cough – though, to paraphrase the BNF, while they're claimed to promote the expulsion of bronchial secretions, there's no evidence that they do. And you have demulcents for dry cough. The BNF again: "Some patients believe that such preparations relieve a dry irritating cough". Yeah, and some people believe in UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster, too.       

So, basically, you're peddling placebos for minor, self-limiting illness. Fair enough. We all have to earn a crust. And if you can turn phlegm into gold, well done.       

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But I would ask you a big favour. There's currently a government-backed campaign encouraging punters with a cough of three weeks or more to see their GP in case it's a sign of lung cancer

I haven't the space here to detail exactly how dumb, trigger-happy, anxiety provoking and work generating this campaign is, with its absurd three week cut-off – and nor will C+D allow me the necessary expletives. I would ask you, though, to ignore it.              

We are happy to see cough in ill people, unexplained cough after six weeks, people coughing up blood, cough with shortness of breath, cough as a possible ACEI side effect, etc, etc. But three weeks of straightforward cough? Forget it. You're in the front line. You are the Kings of Cough. Please rule with common sense.

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