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Are medicines for cough safe during pregnancy?

Q: My wife is five months pregnant. She is suffering from dry cough of an allergic nature. Doctors have prescribed swich 200, lorefant and respira-D. Are these drugs safe during pregnancy? Please advise other medicines as well?

A:If the diagnosis is indeed allergic cough/bronchitis, then there is no need for Swich (brand name of a medicine called cefpodoxime, a very potent and broad spectrum antibiotic). The safety of cefodoxime in pregnancy has not been established; hence it should not be given during pregnancy. It is not permitted for use in breast-feeding mothers. Respira-D contains dextromethorphan (anti-cough) + chlorpheniramine (anti-allergic antihistamine). Lorefant contains loratadine (anti-allergic antihistamine). Due to lack of experience of the use of loratadine in pregnant women, this product should not be used during pregnancy. In animal studies, loratadine has been found to be toxic to the embryo at high doses. There is no scientific justification for using two medicines belonging to the same group; in fact they can be harmful. Both chlorpheniramine and loratadine are antihistamines and hence should not be used concurrently. There are more than 17,000 pharma companies in India producing over 40,000 brands of anti-histamines. This leads to unethical promotion and inappropriate and over-use. Also many sub-standard products are in the market. It is prudent to select brands of well established, reputed manufacturers which produce quality products. For example two brands (Sinarest Linctus - Centaur and Corex Dx of Pfizer) of dextromethorphan + chlorpheniramine are widely available. You may wish to get the eosinophil count (blood) done to exclude other causes of cough.

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