Effectiveness of azelastine nasal spray compared with oral cetirizine in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis

Allergy Research Foundation, Inc., Los Angeles, California 90025, USA.
Clinical Therapeutics (Impact Factor: 2.73). 05/2005; 27(5):543-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2005.04.012
Source: PubMed


Azelastine nasal spray and oral cetirizine are selective histamine H(1)-receptor antagonists that are approved in the United States for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR).
The objective of the present study was to compare the efficacy and tolerability of azelastine nasal spray administered at the recommended dosage of 2 sprays per nostril twice daily with those of cetirizine in the treatment of moderate to severe SAR.
This multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, 2-week comparative study was conducted during the 2004 fall allergy season in patients with moderate to severe SAR. After a 1-week placebo lead-in period, patients were randomized to receive azelastine nasal spray 2 sprays per nostril twice daily plus placebo tablets or cetirizine 10-mg tablets once daily plus a placebo saline nasal spray for the 2-week double-blind treatment period. The primary efficacy variables were (1) change from baseline to day 14 in the 12-hour reflective total nasal symptom score (TNSS), which combines scores for rhinorrhea, sneezing, itchy nose, and nasal congestion, and (2) onset of action, based on the instantaneous TNSS over 4 hours after the first dose of study drug. During the double-blind treatment period, patients recorded their symptom scores on diary cards twice daily (morning and evening). Patients aged > or =18 years also completed the Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) at baseline and on day 14.
Three hundred seven patients were randomized to treatment, and 299 completed 2 weeks of study treatment. The age of the population ranged from 12 to 74 years (mean, 35 years), 62.9% were female, and 69.6% were white. Over 2 weeks of treatment, both groups had significant improvements in the TNSS compared with baseline (P < 0.001). The overall change in TNSS was significantly greater with azelastine nasal spray compared with cetirizine (29.3% vs 23.0% improvement, respectively; P = 0.015). In terms of onset of action, azelastine nasal spray significantly improved the instantaneous TNSS compared with cetirizine at 60 and 240 minutes after the initial dose (both, P = 0.040). Scores on each domain of the RQLQ were significantly improved in both groups compared with baseline (P < 0.001); the overall RQLQ score was significantly improved with azelastine nasal spray compared with cetirizine (P = 0.049). Both treatments were well tolerated.
In this 2-week study in patients with moderate to severe SAR, azelastine nasal spray was well tolerated and produced significantly greater improvements in TNSS and total RQLQ score compared with cetirizine.

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    • "Other trials have examined azelastine (2 sprays per nostril) in comparison to cetirizine 10 mg for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis [31,32]. These studies examined TNSS scores over the course of 14 days and therefore onset of action was not the main objective. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Azelastine has been shown to be effective against seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). The Environmental Exposure Unit (EEU) is a validated model of experimental SAR. The objective of this double-blind, four-way crossover study was to evaluate the onset of action of azelastine nasal spray, versus the oral antihistamines loratadine 10 mg and cetirizine 10 mg in the relief of the symptoms of SAR. Methods 70 participants, aged 18-65, were randomized to receive azelastine nasal spray, cetirizine, loratadine, or placebo after controlled ragweed pollen exposure in the EEU. Symptoms were evaluated using the total nasal symptom score (TNSS). The primary efficacy parameter was the onset of action as measured by the change from baseline in TNSS. Results Azelastine displayed a statistically significant improvement in TNSS compared with placebo at all time points from 15 minutes through 6 hours post dose. Azelastine, cetirizine, and loratadine reduced TNSS compared to placebo with an onset of action of 15 (p < 0.001), 60 (p = 0.015), and 75 (p = 0.034) minutes, respectively. The overall assessment of efficacy was rated as good or very good by 46% of the participants for azelastine, 51% of the participants for cetirizine, and 30% of the participants for loratadine compared to 18% of the participants for placebo. Conclusions Azelastine’s onset of action for symptom relief was faster than that of cetirizine and loratadine. The overall participant satisfaction in treatment with azelastine is comparable to cetirizine and statistically superior to loratadine. These results suggest that azelastine may be preferential to oral antihistamines for the rapid relief of SAR symptoms.
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