People suffering from persistent cough may soon have a remedy that is derived from cocoa. At present researchers are carrying out the final stages of clinical trials of a drug that contains theobromine, an ingredient found in chocolate and cocoa. The drug could be in the market in another two years.
Persistent cough that lasts over two weeks affects an estimated 7.5m people in Britain each year. The cough suppressants presently available contain the narcotic Codeine. In October the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said under-18s should not take codeine-based remedies, because the risks outweighed the benefits.
Addition of theobromine to the repertoire of chough suppressants can solve the problem. It acts by inhibiting the inappropriate firing of the vagus nerve, which is a key feature of persistent cough. The drug, called BC1036, is being developed by the private UK company SEEK. The drug is already being sold in South Korea.
According to Manfred Scheske, CEO of Consumer Health at SEEK, “I am very excited to announce the progression for the late-stage development of BC1036, which has the potential to dramatically impact the treatment of persistent cough and could greatly benefit the quality of life of persistent cough sufferers.” Professor Alyn Morice of the Hull Cough Clinic agreed that there was a need for a new cough suppressant. Morice said, “Thousands of people across the UK suffer from persistent cough, and due to the drawbacks of current opioid drugs such as codeine, we are in desperate need of a non-opioid treatment with a drastically improved side effect profile for patients.”