The mucolytic efficacy of S-carboxymethylcysteine has been assessed in a double-blind crossover trial in 16 patients with chronic obstructive bronchitis. No significant difference was found between drug and placebo after four or seven days' treatment in the rate of clearance of secretions from the lung. This was measured by external counting of previously inhaled polystyrene tracer particles tagged with technetium-99m (99mTc). Lateral scans across the right chest after inhaling the aerosol showed equal penetration of particles towards the periphery of the lung in drug and placebo runs; this indicated that the airways had not been cleared of mucus by the drug. There was no significant difference between drug and placebo runs in the number of coughs or the weight and radioactive content of sputum voided or raised at the end of the run by chest percussion and postural drainage. Ventilatory capacity was not significantly changed nor was there any subjective improvement in the patients as a result of taking the drug.
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