The clinical use of cetirizine in the treatment of allergic rhinitis

Pharmacology. 2013;92(1-2):14-25. doi: 10.1159/000351843. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Background: Cetirizine is among the first second-generation H1 antihistamines (SGAHs) developed to provide selective H1 receptor inhibition without central nervous system depression.

Objective: The aim of this review is to summarize the amount of data collected over 25 years of clinical use of cetirizine and compare this with data available for other SGAHs in the management of patients with allergic rhinitis (AR).

Methods: A comprehensive literature search for publications relating to cetirizine was performed using the Pubmed database, and relevant papers published in English were selected for detailed review.

Results: Compared with the majority of other SGAHs, cetirizine was generally shown to have a more favourable pharmacological profile, to be well tolerated, be at least equally or more efficacious in attenuating/inhibiting nasal and ocular symptoms and to improve the quality of life in AR patients. The majority of clinical trials investigating the effect of SGAHs in AR patients further indicated that cetirizine was often employed as the main comparator active drug.

Conclusion: Based on the evidence that cetirizine is a commonly employed active comparator drug in AR, it is tempting to suggest that cetirizine may be a suitable benchmark in the development of novel pharmacotherapies for AR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Allergic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cetirizine / pharmacology
  • Cetirizine / therapeutic use*
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists, Non-Sedating / pharmacology
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists, Non-Sedating / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / drug therapy*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists, Non-Sedating
  • Cetirizine