Popular Asthma Drug Approved for Hay Fever

Singulair treats symptoms of both

FRIDAY, Jan. 03, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Merck asthma drug Singulair to treat seasonal hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis. Approval of the once-daily medication for hay fever extends to people as young as two years of age.

Unlike most anti-allergy medications that block a chemical called histamine, Singulair blocks leukotrienes, compounds that influence lung inflammation and allergic reactions. Singulair, which Merck says is now the most widely prescribed asthma controller among allergists and pediatricians in the United States, has been on the market since 1998.

Some 26.1 million Americans suffer from hay fever and 14.6 million Americans have asthma, the American Lung Association projects. Other estimates put the number of U.S. hay fever sufferers as high as 50 million.

In clinical trials, Singulair was proven effective in treating hay fever symptoms including nasal congestion, itchy nose and eyes, and sneezing. While it was not associated with sleepiness -- a common result of many antihistamines -- Singulair's most frequent side effects included headache, ear infection, sore throat and upper respiratory infection, Merck says.

Here is the Merck press release announcing the FDA Approval. For more about hay fever, visit the American Lung Association.

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