Published: Wednesday November 7, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday July 15, 2013 MYT 4:04:00 PM

Combo drug for rhinitis

A non-sedating antihistamine and decongestant rolled into one drug has been launched to help sufferers of allergic rhinitis.

MERCK Sharp & Dohme (MSD) recently announced the launch of a drug that contains desloratadine 2.5mg and pseudoephedrine 120mg to offer relief for those suffering from allergic rhinitis (AR). The component drugs are a non-sedating antihistamine and decongestant, respectively.

The drug can be used to relieve intermittent and year-round mild, moderate and persistent allergic symptoms such as nasal congestion, itching, sneezing and tearing or watering eyes.

It is estimated that almost 1.4 billion people globally suffer from allergic disorders and the prevalence appears to be increasing, making it one of the most common chronic medical conditions worldwide. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region alone has seen a dramatic increase in the prevalence of AR within the past 10 years.

Rhinitis is a common ailment affecting about 40% of the population in Malaysia. From that figure, allergy appears to be a major cause (80%) of rhinitis in childhood and middle-aged sufferers. However, in older individuals, almost half suffer from AR and the remaining from non-allergic disorders, said consultant ear, nose, throat (ENT) surgeon Prof Dr Prepageran Narayanan, who was present at the launch event.

“There are two major classifications of AR – intermittent and persistent. Intermittent AR occurs for less than four days per week or for less than four consecutive weeks, while persistent AR occurs for more than four days per week and for more than four consecutive weeks,” elaborated Prof Dr Prepageran.

The most common allergen for intermittent AR are outdoor allergens such as mould, trees, grass or weed pollens, while persistent AR is caused by indoor allergens such as pets, dust mites, cockroach droppings, animal dander or indoor mould.

“When an antigen is encountered, the immune system of an AR patient releases histamines causing the allergy symptoms to occur,” Prof Dr Prepageran elaborated.

According to a survey conducted between 2009 and 2010 across eight countries in Asia-Pacific, of the 491 households in Malaysia that participated, 41% of children suffered from seasonal AR while 48% had perennial AR. This is quite significant when compared to the 37% of adults who equally suffered from seasonal and perennial AR.

“In the same survey, most of the respondents commented that AR impacted their quality of life, with impairments to their school and work performance as well as productivity, especially when symptoms of AR was at its worst,” said Prof Dr Prepageran.

Productivity and quality of life may also be affected when AR patients attempt to self-medicate and end up consuming certain drugs or antihistamines that may affect their sleep.

Prof Dr Prepageran emphasised the importance of being properly diagnosed and treated. When AR is distinguished from the normal flu and effectively managed, patients can resume their daily lives with minimal interruptions.

He added: “We hope patients would not self-medicate based on a cold when they are having AR. Consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and medication to ensure that AR symptoms are kept under control and quality of life is maintained.”

In addition, to address the lack of understanding about AR, MSD, together with the Malaysian Society of Allergy & Immunology (MSAI), kicked off Stop the Sneeze, Ditch the Itch Campaign. This campaign aims to create more awareness among the public on the nature and symptoms of AR as well as the need to visit their doctor to be accurately diagnosed and properly treated.

Public education and awareness are critical because AR can have a huge impact on quality of life, leading to a loss in productivity and impacting the economy negatively.

Clinics participating in this campaign will have educational and display materials such as brochures and posters to carry the message about the right treatment for AR.


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Tags / Keywords: Health, Lifestyle, health, antihistamine, decongestant, allergic symptoms, allergic rhinitis


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