Terfenadine, a potent histamine H1-receptor antagonist in the treatment of grass pollen sensitive asthma

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1990 Aug;30(2):229-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1990.tb03769.x.


1. We have assessed the effect of a specific histamine H1-receptor antagonist, terfenadine, in the treatment of atopic asthmatics during the grass pollen season. 2. Eighteen mild, grass pollen sensitive asthmatics (10F, 8M, mean +/- s.e. mean age 34.7 +/- 5.6 years), all of whom were controlled on inhaled beta 2-adrenoceptor agonists alone, took part in a 9 week, double-blind, crossover study using terfenadine 180 mg three times daily and placebo. Throughout the study patients recorded peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) twice daily, symptoms of cough, wheeze, breathlessness and chest tightness (scored 0-3), and their use of bronchodilators. Methacholine inhalation challenge tests were performed each week. Data were analysed by a method suitable for a two group, two period crossover trial with baseline measurements. 3. Terfenadine significantly reduced symptoms of cough by 76.9% (P less than 0.05) and wheeze by 46.9% (P less than 0.02). Symptoms of breathlessness and chest tightness were reduced by 16.8 and 30.3% respectively but these were not statistically significant. Morning and evening PEFR rose by 5.5 (P less than 0.001) and 6.2% (P less than 0.003) respectively on treatment with terfenadine and bronchodilator use fell by 40.3%. A progressive increase in methacholine sensitivity was seen in both treatment groups throughout the study but did not reach statistical significance. 4. We conclude that treatment with terfenadine during the grass pollen season in sensitive asthmatics reduced their symptoms and bronchodilator requirements and produced a modest improvement in their lung function without affecting the development of increased methacholine sensitivity that occurred during the grass pollen season.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pollen / immunology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Terfenadine


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Terfenadine