Background Chronic urticaria is a common skin condition. It is frequently a disabling disease because of the persistence of clinical symptoms, the unpredictable course and its negative influence on the quality of life.
Objectives To determine whether levocetirizine is efficacious in the treatment of chronic idiopathic urticaria.
Methods A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted in 106 patients with a diagnosis of chronic idiopathic urticaria. A 1-week single blind placebo run-in period (baseline) was followed by a 6-week double blind active treatment period. The patients were randomized to receive one of the following treatments once daily: (a) oral levocetirizine 5 mg, or (b) oral placebo. The study ended after another 1-week single blind placebo washout period.
Results The evaluable population consisted of 100 patients. Levocetirizine administered once daily is effective and well tolerated in the treatment of the symptoms of chronic idiopathic urticaria and in improving the patient's quality of life. Levocetirizine was superior to placebo in reducing the mean total symptoms score as well as individual symptoms, the number of daily episodes and the number of weals, the overall severity of symptoms and the quality of life. The significant beneficial effects of levocetirizine lasted only during the active trial, while at follow-up there was a significant worsening of all the variables evaluated in this study, after the end of the active trial (week 7).
Conclusions A global assessment indicates that levocetirizine 5 mg once daily is an effective agent in patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria, as its action provides a rapid and satisfactory control of the symptoms and measures of subjective disease, although this is limited to the duration of treatment.