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Acetylcysteine for Patients Requiring Secretion Clearance: A Review of Guidelines

Last updated: July 3, 2019
Project Number: RC1149-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Drug
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report


  1. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding the administration of acetylcysteine for mucous secretion clearance?

Key Message

Six relevant guidelines were identified. Three guidelines suggest the use of oral acetylcysteine (NAC) for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (weak or conditional recommendations based on low- or moderate-quality evidence). The remaining three guidelines did not indicate the strength of the recommendations. Of these, one guideline does not recommend for or against the use of NAC preparations, because of insufficient evidence; one guideline recommends against the use of NAC for acute cough; And one guideline does not recommend the use of aerosolized NAC for hospitalized patients, and patients with neuromuscular disease, respiratory muscle weakness or impaired cough.