Stage stars cough up for scarce medicine

For generations, actors have relied on a famously foul-tasting restorative gargle to keep them performing through sore throats, coughs and colds.

Bottles of Sanderson’s Throat Mixture have all but sold out

Panic is spreading through theatreland, however, because bottles of Sanderson’s Throat Specific Mixture have all but sold out.

This comes after the hacking cough sweeping the country sent demand soaring just as supply problems developed with the key ingredient that gives the linctus its distinctive bitter taste. More than 60,000 bottles are on order and the drug’s maker, Infohealth, is working hard to bring new supplies to market. As stocks have dwindled a black market has developed, with the £4 bottles changing hands for ten times as much online.

Infohealth has rationed its own stockpile to make sure high- profile users such as Dame Helen Mirren receive regular supplies. A new supply of the key ingredient, quassia wood, has been sourced and the medicine is in production, though the new formulation must be approved by the MHRA, the medicines regulator. Infohealth hopes the product will be back on the shelves by the end of March.

Sanderson’s was created in the 1850s by George C Sanderson. He ran a pharmacy next door to Manchester Opera House and concocted the expectorant for performers.

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