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Curr Med Res Opin. 2004 Jun;20(6):891-902.

A direct comparison of the efficacy of antihistamines in SAR and PAR: randomised, placebo-controlled studies with levocetirizine and loratadine using an environmental exposure unit - the Vienna Challenge Chamber (VCC).

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  • 1ENT University Clinic Vienna, Austria.



The Vienna Challenge Chamber (VCC) is an established method for the controlled exposure of patients to specific allergens, used to make valid comparisons between antihistamines. The aim of the significantly more than loratadine at all time two placebo-controlled, randomised studies reported here was to compare the efficacy and safety of levocetirizine 5 mg od and loratadine 10 mg od in subjects suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) or perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR).


During each study period, SAR and PAR subjects were exposed to grass pollen or house-dust mite allergens, respectively for 6 h on 2 consecutive days in the VCC. Each day, medications were administered 2 h after the start of the challenge; with a washout of at least 5 days between each period. The main criterion for evaluation of efficacy was the major symptom complex (MSC) for SAR and the complex symptom score (CSS) for PAR.


The pattern of patients' response was similar in SAR and PAR. Both levocetirizine and loratadine were superior to placebo in alleviating SAR and PAR symptoms at all time intervals evaluated during the two study days. Levocetirizine decreased the mean MSC score intervals in SAR subjects, with the most marked difference observed on day 2 (p = 0.002). In PAR patients, although with borderline significance (p = 0.08), levocetirizine decreased the mean CSS more than loratadine. Levocetirizine appeared to have a faster onset of action than loratadine in SAR (45 min versus 1 h 15 min) and PAR (1 h versus 1 h 30 min). However, these apparent differences were not tested for statistical significance. Both medications were well tolerated and no treatment-related adverse events were reported. This level of antihistamine efficacy was maintained regardless of whether the subjects' rhinitis was seasonal or perennial.


This study demonstrated that levocetirizine is superior to loratadine in improving symptoms in SAR and that there is a similar trend in PAR.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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