Dr. Sher Leads National Conversation on Chronic Cough

“Cough is the most frequent illness-related reason people visit their doctor,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

But not all coughs are created equal.   Some people are dealing with an active upper respiratory infection or the aftermath, and others have a cough that just won’t go away.  A cough that lasts eight weeks or longer is considered a “chronic cough.” 10% of the population have a chronic cough and a large number from this group cannot find effective treatment because their physicians are diagnosing and treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause.

Everyone has a cough reflex, which means their body has a protective mechanism that keeps foreign objects from entering the lungs. Very often, the underlying cause of an unexplained chronic cough is an “overactive” cough reflex that gets triggered too easily, otherwise known by medical professionals as “cough reflex hypersensitivity.”

It’s for this group of people that a national conversation around a promising new drug is taking place, led by Dr. Mandel Sher and his Cough Specialist Physician colleagues in the United States as well as internationally.

Dr. Mandel Sher, the lead investigator for a Phase 2 clinical trial in chronic cough with Afferent Pharmaceuticals’ AF-219, co-authored an abstract presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference in San Francisco last week. He underlined the importance of this new drug AF-219 with the hard fact that, “no new treatment for cough has been approved by the FDA in 50 years.”

Chronic cough is a complex condition with debilitating consequences. Think of it like a puzzle that has a “brain” piece (neurogenic), an “inflammatory” piece, and a “behavioral” piece. Today, the side effects of existing effective drugs are undesirable – like Codeine that causes nausea, dizziness, and constipation, just to name a few. Therefore, Dr. Sher, one of the few physicians in the nation specializing in chronic cough, said that they believe AF-219 may be “a valuable drug and have a significant impact in the treatment of chronic cough.”

Additional Phase 2 trials with AF-219 are under way at his office, Center For Cough, in the Tampa Bay Area to study additional aspects of the drug. People who have chronic cough and current patients of Center for Cough who meet specific clinical criteria can volunteer to be a patient in the trial for this new cough drug. For more information, please call Amy, the study coordinator at Center for Cough, at 727-393-8067.