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Effects of fexofenadine and desloratadine on subjective and objective measures of nasal congestion in seasonal allergic rhinitis


Dr Brian J. Lipworth, Asthma & Allergy Research Group, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK DD1 9SY. E-mail:


BackgroundIn vitro studies have shown much higher H 1 -receptor antagonist potency with desloratadine (DL) compared to fexofenadine (FEX), although it is unclear whether this has any clinical relevance on disease control parameters in seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), especially for nasal congestion.

Objective To compare the relative efficacy between presently recommended doses of DL and FEX on daily measurements of peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) and nasal symptoms in SAR.

Methods Forty-nine patients with SAR were randomized into a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study during the grass pollen season, comparing 2 weeks of once daily treatment with (a) 180 mg FEX or (b) 5 mg DL, taken in the morning. There was a 7–10 day placebo run-in and washout prior to each randomized treatment. Measurements were made in the morning (am) and in the evening (pm) for PNIF (the primary outcome variable), nasal and eye symptoms. The average of am/pm values were used for analysis.

Results There were significant (P < 0.05) improvements, compared to placebo, with FEX and DL, for PNIF, nasal blockage, nasal irritation, and total nasal symptoms, but not nasal discharge or eye symptoms. There were no significant differences between active treatments. Values for PNIF (L/min) for mean placebo baseline, mean difference from baseline (95% CI for difference) were 126, 10 (4–16) for FEX; and 122, 11 (4–17) for DL. The mean difference (95% CI) between FEX vs. DL was 1 L/min (−7–8). Values for total nasal symptoms (out of 12) were: 3.2, 0.7 (0.2–1.2) for FEX; and 3.4, 0.9 (0.3–1.5) for DL, and for nasal blockage (out of 3) were: 1.1, 0.2 (0.1–0.4) for FEX; and 1.2, 0.3 (0.1–0.5) for DL. The mean difference (95% CI) in total nasal symptoms and nasal blockage between FEX vs. DL was 0.1 (−0.6–0.8) and 0.1 (−0.2–0.3), respectively.

Conclusions Recommended once daily doses of fexofenadine and desloratadine were equally effective in improving nasal peak flow and nasal symptoms in SAR.