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J Clin Pharmacol. 1992 Nov;32(11):996-1002.

Central nervous system effects of meclizine and dimenhydrinate: evidence of acute tolerance to antihistamines.

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Neuropharmacology Division, Dent Neurologic Institute, Millard Fillmore Hospital, Buffalo, NY 14209.


Relative daytime drowsiness and performance impairment produced by meclizine and dimenhydrinate was assessed in 24 healthy male volunteers. Subjects received either dimenhydrinate, 100 mg, at 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:00 PM; meclizine, 50 mg, at 8:00 AM, with placebo at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM; or placebo at all three times in this randomized, double-blind, three-way crossover study. Impairment of mental performance was assessed by choice reaction time testing and digit symbol substitution scores. Drowsiness was self-assessed on the Stanford Sleepiness Scale and on a visual analog scale. Both antihistamines produced changes in digit symbol substitution, recognition time, and subjective assessments of sleepiness different from placebo. Expressed as change from baseline, the greatest reductions in digit symbol substitution scores after dimenhydrinate occurred 3 hours after the first dose (6.6 +/- 7) and were not different from the greatest measured change after meclizine (5.8 +/- 8), which occurred 9 hours after the dose was administered. Similar results were obtained with the other psychometric test scores. Self-rated sleepiness after dimenhydrinate was greatest 1 hour after the first dose, and was significantly greater than the largest degree of sleepiness after meclizine, which occurred at 7 hours after the dose. The effects of the first dose of dimenhydrinate on psychometric test scores were compared with the magnitude of the effects produced by subsequent doses. The magnitude of effect of the first dose of dimenhydrinate was significantly greater than the magnitude of effect produced by subsequent doses. The data suggest the possibility that acute tolerance to central nervous system impairment develops with multiple doses of dimenhydrinate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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