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Cetirizine: a review of its use in allergic disorders.

Drugs 2004
UNLABELLED: Cetirizine is a selective, second-generation histamine H1 receptor antagonist, with a rapid onset, a long duration of activity and low potential for interaction with drugs metabolised by the hepatic cytochrome P450 system. Cetirizine was generally more effective than other H1 receptor antagonists at inhibiting histamine-induced wheal and flare responses. Cetirizine is an effective and well tolerated agent for the treatment of symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR) and chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) in adult, adolescent and paediatric patients. In adults with these allergic disorders, cetirizine was as effective as conventional dosages of ebastine (SAR, PAR, CIU), fexofenadine (SAR), loratadine (SAR, CIU) or mizolastine (SAR). This agent was significantly more effective, and with a more rapid onset of action, than loratadine in 2-day studies in environmental exposure units (SAR). In paediatric patients, cetirizine was as at least as effective as chlorphenamine (chlorpheniramine) [SAR], loratadine (SAR, PAR) and oxatomide (CIU) in the short term, and more effective than oxatomide and ketotifen (PAR) in the long term. Cetirizine was effective in reducing symptoms of allergic asthma in adults and reduced the relative risk of developing asthma in infants with atopic dermatitis sensitised to grass pollen or house dust mite allergens. It had a corticosteroid-sparing effect in infants with severe atopic dermatitis and was effective in ameliorating reactions to mosquito bites in adults. Cetirizine was well tolerated in adults, adolescents and paediatric patients with allergic disorders. In adult, adolescent and paediatric patients aged 2-11 years, the incidence of somnolence with cetirizine was dose related and was generally similar to that with other second-generation H1 receptor antagonists. Although, its sedative effect was greater than that of fexofenadine in some clinical trials and that of loratadine or fexofenadine in a postmarketing surveillance study. In infants aged 6-24 months, the tolerability profile of cetirizine was similar to that of placebo. Cetirizine did not have any adverse effects on cognitive function in adults, or cognitive function, behaviour or achievement of psychomotor milestones in paediatric patients. Cetirizine was not associated with cardiotoxicity.

CONCLUSION: Cetirizine is well established in the treatment of symptoms of SAR, PAR or CIU. It demonstrated a corticosteroid-sparing effect and reduced the relative risk of developing asthma in sensitised infants with atopic dermatitis. Cetirizine was effective in the treatment of allergic cough and mosquito bites; however, its precise role in these indications has yet to be clearly established. On the basis of its favourable efficacy and tolerability profile and rapid onset of action, cetirizine provides an important option for the treatment of a wide range of allergic disorders.

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