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Systematic (IUPAC) name
CAS number 509-67-1
ATC code R05DA08
PubChem ?
DrugBank ?
Chemical data
Formula C23H30N2O4 
Mol. mass 398.55 g/mol
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability Maximum plasma concentrations are attained at 4 to 8 hours after an oral dose.
Protein binding 23.5%
Metabolism Hepatic
Half life The elimination half life ranges from 32 to 43 hours and volume of distribution is 36-49L/kg.
Excretion Renal
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat.


Legal status

Class B(UK) OTC (UK)

Dependence Liability Low
Routes Oral

Pholcodine is a modified opiate cough suppressant (antitussive) that acts primarily on the central nervous system (CNS) causing depression of the cough reflex, partly by a direct effect on the cough centre in the medulla. It also has a mild sedative effect, yet has little or no analgesic action. It is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and freely crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is metabolized in the liver and its action may be prolonged in hepatic insufficiency. Pholcodine is found in cough lozenges. It helps suppress unproductive coughs and acts an antifungal agent.

Side effects

Side effects are rare and may include dizziness and gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea or vomiting.

Adverse effects such as constipation, drowsiness, excitation, ataxia and respiratory depression have been reported occasionally or after large doses.

A norwegian cough-syrup containing Pholcodine ("Tuxi") has been withdrawn from the market because it caused increased levels of IgE-antibodies, regardless of an actual allergy to the drug[1]. This is because it is believed to increase the risk of anaphylaxis to neuromuscular blocking agents used during anaesthesia.

See also

Other cough suppressants
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pholcodine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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