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It is now possible for some allergy patients to breathe more easily and remain alert, as demonstrated by European clinical trials of a potent new antihistamine, terfenadine. The drug does not produce sedation or other adverse effects associated with older antihistamine preparations. In addition, there are no apparent contraindications for its use in adult allergy sufferers, nor have any carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic effects been seen in animals.
Terfenadine, manufactured by Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Cincinnati, is like other antihistamines—an H1 receptor antagonist; that is, it specifically blocks the chain of cellular events following the release of histamine that triggers the typical symptoms of acute and perennial rhinitis and allergic dermatitis. However, terfenadine does not affect the CNS, as indicated by a series of clinical trials reported at a Milan symposium to introduce the agent in Italy.
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