• antihistamines;
  • fexofenadine;
  • honeybee;
  • insect venom allergy;
  • side-effects;
  • venom immunotherapy

Background:Immunotherapy with Hymenoptera venoms is highly effective but causes allergic side-effects frequently, especially when honeybee venom is used. Therefore, our objective was to investigate the effect of pretreatment with the antihistamine fexofenadine on the incidence of allergic side-effects during ultrarush immunotherapy with bee venom.

Methods:In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 57 patients with a history of systemic allergic reactions to honeybee stings and positive diagnostic tests (skin tests, serum specific IgE to honeybee venom) were investigated. Bee venom immunotherapy was started with an ultrarush protocol and patients were randomized to pretreatment with either fexofenadine 180 mg or placebo on days 1, 8, 22, and 50 of the protocol. Local and systemic allergic side-effects were registered.

Results:Fifty-four patients completed the study, 28 on fexofenadine and 26 on placebo pretreatment. On day 1, large local reactions were significantly reduced in both extension and duration by fexofenadine pretreatment (P<0.025). Systemic allergic side-effects on the whole were not reduced. However, the symptoms pruritus, urticaria, and angioedema occurred less frequently with fexofenadine (P<0.05).

Conclusions:Pretreatment with fexofenadine during venom immunotherapy reduces local allergic reactions and generalized symptoms of the urticaria and angioedema type.