Double-blind trials of azelastine nasal spray monotherapy versus combination therapy with loratadine tablets and beclomethasone nasal spray in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis Study Groups.Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1999 Jun; 82(6):535-41.AA
Azelastine hydrochloride is an H1-receptor antagonist with antiinflammatory properties that is available in the US as Astelin Nasal Spray for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. The symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis can initially be treated with monotherapy using either an antihistamine or an intranasal corticosteroid. Patients whose symptoms do not respond adequately are often prescribed a combination of both an antihistamine and an intranasal corticosteroid.
Three multicenter, randomized, double-blind studies were conducted to determine whether patients with moderate-to-severe symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis who had responded inadequately to monotherapy with either an oral antihistamine or an intranasal corticosteroid, and who were candidates for combination therapy with both an oral antihistamine and an intranasal corticosteroid, could be effectively treated with azelastine nasal spray monotherapy.
Following a 1- to 2-week washout period, patients were randomized to 7 days of double-blind treatment with either azelastine nasal spray (2 sprays per nostril bid, 1.1 mg/day) monotherapy or combination therapy with oral loratadine (Claritin, one 10-mg tablet/day) plus intranasal beclomethasone dipropionate monohydrate (Beconase AQ, 2 sprays per nostril bid, 336 microg/day). Efficacy was determined at the end of the study by both a physician assessment of the need for additional anti-rhinitis medication and a patient global evaluation of therapeutic effectiveness. The three studies were conducted at 71 investigational sites during the 1998 spring allergy season. Three separate studies were conducted to verify the reproducibility of the new study design.
In all three studies a total of 1,070 patients were randomized to double-blind treatment. There were no statistically significant differences in the percentage of patients treated with azelastine nasal spray versus patients treated with a combination of loratadine tablets and beclomethasone nasal spray who did not require additional anti-rhinitis medication (32% to 45% and 39% to 46%, respectively). The patient global evaluation indicated that 77% to 84% of the patients treated with azelastine nasal spray had symptomatic improvement and 85% to 90% of the patients treated with loratadine tablets and beclomethasone nasal spray had symptomatic improvement. The most commonly reported adverse experience with azelastine nasal spray was a transient aftertaste (8%), while the most commonly reported adverse experience with loratadine tablets and beclomethasone nasal spray in combination was headache (6%).
Based on the percentage of patients not requiring additional antirhinitis medication and the patient assessment of efficacy, azelastine nasal spray monotherapy was as effective as the combination of oral loratadine plus intranasal beclomethasone in treating moderate-to-severe symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis.