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New GP advice on antihistamines

The Government's prescribing body has advised GPs against prescribing third-generation antihistamines for hay fever.

The National Prescribing Centre has ruled products such as desloratadine and levocetrine are no more effective than second-generation products such as loratadine and cetirizine.

For patients with moderate to severe hay fever – most likely to be seen by GPs – the centre advises regular intranasal ster-oids to be started two weeks before symptoms develop.

Immunotherapy is only recommended for patients with poorly controlled symptoms or evidence of IgE-mediated disease despite allergen avoidance and appropriate medication.

The advice, published in the centre's latest MeReC Bulletin advises that pregnant women should opt for allergen avoidance if possible, especially during their first trimester.

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