In 2018, we spent SEK 140 million on non-prescription cough medicine. If you sell out the amount of cough medicine sold to all residents - all - residents in Sweden, on average, there will be more than 30 doses per person. It shows statistics that the E-health authority has produced for SVT.

But despite being sold so much, the drugs lack scientifically documented effects against cough. Region Skåne writes in its therapy guidelines in 2019 that “Cough medicine has very limited and poorly proven effect. (...) They are therefore not generally recommended. ”The Swedish Medicines Agency also recommends not using cough medicines in a 2008 information document.

Is about placebo

Several studies, including one in Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, suggest that the effect on cough that can be experienced is largely about placebo, as well as effects that are equally likely to be obtained from tea, or honey water or the like. Similar studies are rewritten in the magazine Läkemedelsvärlden.

But how come they can be sold as medicines at pharmacies in Sweden? We contacted the Swedish Medicines Agency, which is the regulator and after many trips we managed to get an answer. It is about how our laws are designed.

The video gives you an explanation as to why.