fexofenadine, Allegra, Allegra Allergy, Allegra Hives, Children's Allegra

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GENERIC NAME: fexofenadine

BRAND NAME: Allegra, Allegra Allergy, Allegra Hives, Children's Allegra

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Fexofenadine is an oral, "second generation" antihistamine that is used to treat the signs and symptoms of allergy and hives. It is similar to the other second generation antihistamines loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec) and azelastine (Astelin).

 Histamine is a chemical that is responsible for many of the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions, for example, swelling of the lining of the nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. Histamine is released from histamine-storing cells (mast cells) and then attaches to other cells that have receptors for histamine. The attachment of the histamine to the receptors causes the cells to be "activated," releasing other chemicals that produce the effects that we associate with allergy (for example, sneezing). Fexofenadine blocks one type of receptor for histamine (the H1 receptor) and thus prevents activation of H1 receptor-containing cells by histamine. Unlike the first generation antihistamines, fexofenadine and other second-generation antihistamines do not readily enter the brain from the blood. Therefore, they cause less drowsiness and are called non-sedating antihistamines. Fexofenadine was approved by the FDA in July 1995.

PRESCRIPTION: No, yes (suspension)

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Tablets: 30, 60 and 180 mg. Suspension: 30 mg/5 ml.

STORAGE: Tablets and suspension should be stored at room temperature between 20-25 C (68-77 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Fexofenadine is used for the treatment of seasonal allergies in patients 2 years of age and older and chronic urticaria (hives, itching) in patients 6 months of age and older.

DOSING: For seasonal allergies and urticaria the recommended dose for adults and children 12 years of age or older is 60 mg twice daily or 180 mg once daily.

Children 2-11 years of age should be given 30 mg twice daily for seasonal allergies or urticaria.

Children 6 months to 2 years old should receive 15 mg twice daily for urticaria.

The suspension is used for children less than 6 years old.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Aluminum containing antacids (for example, Maalox) reduced the absorption of fexofenadine when administered 15 minutes apart. Therefore, aluminum containing antacids and fexofenadine should not be administered together. Fruit juices (apple, orange, grapefruit) may reduce the absorption of fexofenadine. Fexofenadine should only be administered with water.

PREGNANCY: Fexofenadine has not been adequately studied in pregnant women.

NURSING MOTHERS: Fexofenadine has not been adequately studied in women who are breastfeeding.

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of fexofenadine are headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness and sleepiness. Fever, muscle aches, cough, and allergic reactions may also occur.

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information


Last Editorial Review: 2/1/2012




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