Coughing is, in the Western world, the most common reason to seek contact with the health care provider. At least 10% of the adult population suffers from chronic cough and of these, 10% has chronic refractory unexplained (idiopathic) cough without any effective treatment. The total amount spent on chronic cough treatment is almost 1.2 billion USD annually in the US and Europe. Coughing due to common cold has similar mechanisms as chronic cough, indicating usefulness of Capsaicin treatment. There are 1 billion common colds yearly in the US.

A first pilot study by Professor Eva Millqvist, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, has shown the possibility to down regulate cough by using capsaicin in chronic unexplained cough patients without negative side effects. A new capsaicinoid product is developed, hereafter named FAMCAPS250. Right now a Phase II study is ongoing led by Professor Eva Millqvist.

There is an approval for patent claims for FAMCAPS250 (owned by Eva Millqvist) in Australia and ongoing final discussion regarding pending patent proceedings with the US, Canada and Europe in good progress. A phase II study is ongoing to confirm the results of the pilot study and is expected to be published in 2022.

15 years of research and development

Research and scientific studies at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden

  • Principal investigator (PI)

Professor Eva Millqvist

  • International collaboration

Professor Alyn Morice, University of Hull, UK
Professor Surinder Birring, Imperial College, London, UK

Cough reduction using FAMCAPS250 – the concept

There is a large unmet clinical need in cough treatment and the novelty is to treat cough with oral capsaicinoid product - FAMCAPS250 to down regulate cough receptors.  A first, published pilot study 2015 showed convincing results of using capsaicin in chronic cough treatment. The approach is to develop a new effective OTC drug without side effects that reduces cough and the product will be a capsule comprising a product from Capsicum Oleoresin –
FAMCAPS250. There is an approval for patent claims in Australia and ongoing communication regarding pending patent proceedings with the US, Canada and Europe.

Pilot study

A recently published study showed how a daily intake of oral capsaicin significantly reduced coughing and cough reflex sensitivity. This represents a unique innovation and has been commercially protected by international patent applications own by Eva Millqvist.

The science behind the FAMCAPS250 project

Cough and pain have many basic similarities on receptor level (TRPV1- triggered by capsaicin and pain). In pain, topical capsaicin (in crèmes and patches) is used to “exhaust” – desensitize the receptors, resulting in pain relief. We use the same mechanisms for desensitising cough, “exhausting” or downregulate cough receptors by capsaicin.

The pilot study showed how a daily intake of oral capsaicin:

  • Significantly reduced cough symptoms
  • Significantly reduced cough sensitivity
  • The symptoms returned during the placebo period
  • No side effects

We further have indications that oral capsaicin may be useful in treating cough from common cold.

Global market for chronic cough

10% of  adult population has chronic cough
Current treatments of chronic cough have poor effect. A large portion of the patients do not use any medication or treatment since several tries have had no success. An effective treatment for chronic cough could significantly increase the market for OTC treatments and the capsaicin has shown a great success in unexplained chronic cough presented in a published scientific study.

Map showing the pooled prevalence of chronic cough by continent