Ann Pharmacother. 2023 Jan 23:10600280221135750. doi: 10.1177/10600280221135750. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To review the available literature regarding the treatment effects and efficacy of benzonatate needed to better inform patients, providers, and regulators evaluating its role in modern medical therapies.
DATA SOURCES: Comprehensive literature searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase (Elsevier), Cochrane Library, and Scopus for original research articles evaluating the effectiveness, tolerability, and safety profile of benzonatate from January 1956 through August 2022.
STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: The identified studies were screened for relevance and then assessed for inclusion through a full-text review, data extraction, and quality assessment by multiple reviewers using the online software Covidence.
DATA SYNTHESIS: The selection process resulted in 37 articles consisting of 21 cohort studies, 5 experimental studies, and 11 case studies and series. Initial clinical studies exploring potential therapeutic benefits collected data from very small populations and limited clinical settings. Safety is primarily assessed in terms of toxicity due to overdose or inappropriate use. Quality assessment raised concerns for high degrees of biases primarily related to the limited sample size, data collection, generalizability, and study design.
RELEVANCE TO PATIENT CARE AND CLINICAL PRACTICE: This review reveals substantial limitations within existing evidence pertaining to the safety and clinical effectiveness of benzonatate and thus, a need for large observational studies or randomized trials to better characterize its role and value in modern medical practice.
CONCLUSIONS: Rising safety concerns should bring closer scrutiny upon the prescription of benzonatate whose approval is founded upon evidence that would not stand up to current regulatory review.