Progress in transplantation (Aliso Viejo, Calif.)

Recommendations for the proper use of nonprescription cough suppressants and expectorants in solid-organ transplant recipients.

PMID 21485938


To describe the pharmacology and safety of oral over-the-counter cough suppressants and expectorants and to present recommendations for the use of these agents in solid-organ transplant recipients based on the potential for adverse drug reactions or drug-disease interactions. Data from journal articles and other sources describing the pharmacology and safety of over-the-counter cough suppressants and expectorants, drug-drug interactions with immunosuppressive agents, and drug-disease state interactions are reviewed. Potential and documented drug-drug interactions between immunosuppressive agents and over-the-counter cough medications guaifenesin, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, and codeine were evaluated on the basis of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles. Interactions between these cough medications and the physiological changes in the body following transplantation also were examined. Diphenhydramine requires additional monitoring when used to treat cough in transplant recipients owing to its anticholinergic properties and the potential for interactions with cyclosporine. Dextromethorphan can be used in most transplant recipients, although greater caution should be exercised if the patient has undergone liver transplant or has liver impairment. Guaifenesin can be used in transplant recipients but should be used with caution in patients receiving kidney or lung transplants and in patients with renal impairment. Codeine combined with guaifenesin is another option for cough and can be used in most transplant patients although those with reduced renal function should be monitored carefully for adverse events.