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July 26, 1958


Author Affiliations

Director, Department of Pharmacology, Marquette University School of Medicine, Milwaukee.

JAMA. 1958;167(13):1638-1639. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990300064014

MOST MEN who have given thought to the term "expectorants" as drugs used for the purpose of increasing the respiratory tract fluid would agree that the term is unfortunate, since there is in it the implication that the effectiveness of such drugs can be measured in terms of the sputum produced. This is what Alstead1 ( 1941 ) considered that he had done when he pronounced ammonium chloride ineffective as an expectorant because it had not increased expectoration. But when Holinger, Basch, and Poncher2 (1941) collected respiratory tract fluid by means of postural drainage and bronchoscopic suction they found that the expectorant drugs liquefy the respiratory tract fluid quite appreciably. Boyd3 (1954) pointed out that indirect measurement of the action of expectorants upon respiratory tract fluid through evaluation of their therapeutic efficacy against cough has resulted only in divergent conclusions, as was to have been expected. In the first