Drug hope for people with chronic cough

The new drug Gefapixant has been found to ease the distressing symptoms of chronic cough by up to 60%.

Professor Birring

King’s Respiratory Consultant Professor Surinder Birring has published a study in The Lancet about the new drug Gefapixant, which has been found to ease the distressing symptoms of chronic cough by up to 60%.

Professor Birring, who leads the specialist cough clinic at King’s College Hospital, was the Chief Investigator during one of two global trials which recruited over 1,000 patients living with chronic coughing to test the new drug.

Chronic coughing is defined as a cough lasting over 8 weeks and affects between 5 to 10% of the UK population, with some people coughing thousands a time a day over many years.

While many patients improve with treatment of associated conditions such as asthma and nasal disease, many do not. The condition can also cause abdominal pain, urinary incontinence in women, as well as anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping.

Gefapixant, which is taken orally, was tested over two clinical trials – Cough 1 and Cough 2 - that lasted 52 weeks. In both studies the drug resulted in a reduction in coughing for up to six months, the research suggests.

The drug works by blocking receptors in the sensory nerves that control coughing and reduces their hypersensitivity.

Gefapixant works within days of being administered and has been shown to be effective in nearly 70% of trial patients.

The trial results are now being evaluated by the UK’s drug regulator, MHRA. If approved, Gefapixant will be the first new cough treatment in over 50 years.

Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Professor Surinder Birring said: “These global trials have demonstrated that Gefapixant has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for patients who struggle with chronic coughing and its distressing effects.

“As effective treatments for cough are currently an unmet clinical need and with no new therapies being approved in over 50 years, Gefapixant offers new hope to thousands of people.”