Some Zinc Lozenges May Shorten Duration of Common Cold Interview with:


Dr. Harri Hemilä


Harri Hemilä, MD, PhD
Department of Public Health,
University of Helsinki What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our meta-analysis of 3 randomized controlled trials on zinc acetate lozenges was motivated by an early trial which indicated that zinc lozenges might be more effective for patients with allergies.

We found that allergy, sex, age, and ethnic bacground did not influence the effect of zinc acetate lozenges.

Thus, the average effect of 3 day reduction in colds seems to be applicable for a wide range of common cold patients. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Common cold patients should try if they find benefit of zinc lozenges. However, they should look at the composition of lozenges, since many of them contain citric acid which binds zinc. Such lozenges to not release free zinc.

Although the three randomized controlled trials included in our analysis showed very strong evidence that zinc acetate lozenges shorten the duration of colds, that effect should not be generalized to all lozenges on the current market. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The optimal composition of the zinc lozenges and the best frequency of administering them should be examined. The three randomized controlled trials on zinc acetate lozenges used 80 to 92 mg/day of elemental zinc per day but we do not know whether, say, 50 or 60 mg/day might have a similar effect. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Zinc acetate lozenges for treating the common cold: an individual patient data metaanalysis Harri Hemilä1 , Edward J Petrus2 , James T Fitzgerald3 and Ananda Prasad4
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016 Jul 5. doi: 10.1111/bcp.13057. [Epub ahead of print]

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Last Updated on July 11, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD