Faculty Articles

Levocetirizine for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis and Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria in Adults and Children



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Clinical Therapeutics





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BACKGROUND: Levocetirizine (LCZ) is a second-generation antihistamine that was approved in January 2008 for the relief of symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR), and chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) in adults and children aged > or = 6 years.

OBJECTIVES: This article reviews the available literature on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, clinical efficacy and tolerability, and effect on quality of life (QoL) of LCZ.

METHODS: A search of the English-language literature was performed using the following databases: MEDLINE (1966-February 2009), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (19 70-February 2009), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EMBASE Drugs & Pharmacology (1991-February 2009), Blackwell Synergy, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, EBSCOhost, ScienceDirect, and Wiley Interscience. The search terms were levocetirizine, allergic rhinitis, chronic idiopathic urticaria, antihistamine, pharmacokinetics, quality of life, drug interactions, case reports, and cost. Publications describing studies of > or = 2 weeks' duration that concerned the efficacy, tolerability, pharmacoeconomics, and/or QoL effects of LCZ were included in the review.

RESULTS: In 4 studies in adult patients with moderate to severe PAR, LCZ 5 mg/d was associated with significant improvements in symptom scores for sneezing, rhinorrhea, and ocular/nasal pruritus at 4 to 6 weeks compared with placebo (P < or = 0.05). In 3 studies, nasal congestion scores were significantly improved within 4 to 6 weeks compared with placebo (P < 0.001). LCZ 5 mg/d was associated with improvements compared with placebo in scores for the ability to do housework, complete work activities, and engage in outdoor activities at 6 months (P < or = 0.011). In a 6-week study in children with moderate to severe SAR, LCZ 5 mg/d was associated with significant improvements compared with placebo in sneezing, rhin-orrhea, and itchy nose (P < 0.004); significant improvements in symptoms from baseline were also seen in a 4-week study in adults with SAR (P < 0.001). One study in patients with SAR reported no significant difference between LCZ and fluticasone compared with fluticasone monotherapy in terms of improvement in QoL, nasal airflow obstruction, sneezing, or pruritus. In a 6-week study in patients with moderate to severe CIU, LCZ 5 mg/d was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing overall CIU symptoms (P < 0.05). In two 4-week studies, one comparing LCZ 5 mg/d with placebo and the other comparing it with desloratadine (DSL), LCZ was significantly more effective than either comparator in terms of improvement in scores for pruritus severity (P < or = 0.001 vs placebo; P < 0.004 vs DSL) and duration (P < or = 0.001 vs placebo; P = 0.009 vs DSL). LCZ was significantly more effective than placebo (but not DSL) in reducing the number and size of wheals (both, P = 0.001). In a 12-week, open-label, crossover study, patients reported significantly longer symptom relief with cetirizine than LCZ (P < 0.005). The most commonly reported adverse events in two 6-month studies in adults with PAR treated with LCZ 5 mg/d included headache (23.8%), pharyngitis (19.4%), influenza (14.6%), fatigue (8.3%), and somnolence (8.3%). There is serious concern about the possibility of febrile seizures in infants treated with LCZ. Three pharmacoeconomic studies of LCZ 5 mg/d were identified, one comparing it with placebo in patients with PAR, one comparing it with placebo in patients with CIU, and another comparing it with second-generation antihistamines and montelukast in patients with PAR. Because of design limitations and differences in comparators in these studies, it was not possible to determine the cost-effectiveness of LCZ in the treatment of PAR or CIU.

CONCLUSIONS: In the studies reviewed, LCZ 5 mg/d was effective in reducing symptoms of PAR, SAR, and CIU and improving QoL, with an acceptable tolerabili-ty profile. There is a need for studies of longer durations, head-to-head comparisons against other anti-histamines, drug-interaction studies, safety studies in infants, and cost-effectiveness analyses.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


adult, allergic, cetirizine, child, drug interactions, histamine H1 antagonists, humans, non-sedating, perennial, quality of life, rhinitis, seasonal, urticaria

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