Background and objective: Allergic rhinitis and urticaria are common allergic disorders that may affect approximately 15% of people at some time in their lives. Antihistamines are the most widely used therapeutic interventions for these disorders but the newer generation agents have differing pharmacokinetic characteristics that may result in different patient satisfaction and preferences. The objective of this study was to investigate patients’ and physicians’ satisfaction with their current antihistamine treatment for allergic disease.
Methods: In an observational study, physicians in nine European countries completed questionnaires evaluating 7274 patients treated with an oral antihistamine. The satisfaction of patients and physicians with the efficacy and tolerability of treatment was rated on a visual analogue scale. In addition, the proportion of patients satisfied with treatment (overall satisfaction) and willing to continue treatment with the same antihistamine were assessed. Safety and tolerability data were also gathered.
Results: The results of this study indicate that modern antihistamines are generally considered effective and well tolerated by patients. In general, levocetirizine scored significantly higher in terms of perception of efficacy, tolerability and overall satisfaction. In terms of tolerability, three-quarters of patients were ‘very satisfied’ and a further fifth were moderately satisfied with levocetirizine and almost all (95%) were happy to continue treatment. Overall, the most commonly reported adverse event in this study was somnolence, a well known effect of antihistamines. The rate of somnolence in the levocetirizine group (3.8%) was similar to that for fexofenadine (both doses) and desloratadine, two products which are considered to be nonsedating antihistamines, and significantly less than half the rate for cetirizine.
Conclusion: Levocetirizine is considered an effective and well tolerated option for treating allergic disease by patients and physicians alike, particularly when the best available effectiveness and tolerability are required.
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This study was sponsored and performed by UCB SA, Belgium. The authors take full responsibility for the content of the article but thank Veeda Clinical Research SA for their collaboration in data entry, statistical analysis and their assistance in report writing. The authors also thank Caudex Medical (supported by UCB SA) for their assistance in preparing the initial draft of the manuscript and collating the comments of authors and other named contributors. Christine De Vos, Krassimir Mitchev, Marie-Etienne Pinelli and Rossen Boev are employees of UCB. Marie-Paule is an employee of Veeda Clinical Research SA.
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