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FDA Approves Zyrtec for Nonprescription Use in Adults and Children

November 21, 2007 -- Rockville, MD -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved tablet, chewable tablet, and syrup formulations of Zyrtec (cetirizine HCl) for nonprescription use. The nonprescription drug is approved for the temporary relief of symptoms due to hay fever or other respiratory allergies (sneezing; runny nose; itchy, watery eyes; itchy throat or nose) in adults and children 2 years of age and older.

The nonprescription Zyrtec products also are approved for the relief of itching due to hives in people 6 years of age and older, including adults.

"The approval of Zyrtec for nonprescription use offers an additional treatment option for children and adults," said Andrea Leonard-Segal, M.D., director, Division of Nonprescription Clinical Evaluation in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "As for all nonprescription drugs, consumers and caregivers should read and carefully follow all directions on the labeling."

The tablets and chewable tablets are approved for adults and children 6 years of age and older:

  • for the treatment of the symptoms of hay fever and other respiratory allergies, and
  • to relieve the itching due to hives.
The syrup is approved for:
  • adults and children 2 years of age and older for the treatment of the symptoms of hay fever and other respiratory allergies, and
  • adults and children 6 years of age and older to relieve the itching due to hives.
The company will market two distinct Zyrtec products for each dosage form. One will provide directions for treating the symptoms of hay fever and other respiratory allergies. The other will contain directions for use to relieve the itching due to hives.

Zyrtec may cause drowsiness in some people at recommended doses. Other common side effects include fatigue and dry mouth.

On November 9, 2007, the FDA announced that it had approved Zyrtec-D, a product which contains cetirizine HCl and pseudoephedrine HCl, for nonprescription use. Sales of the Zyrtec-D are subject to restrictions in the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. This law places restrictions on the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, such as limiting the amount that an individual can purchase, and imposing record keeping requirements on the retail establishments that sell the product and that it be located with the pharmacist. Nonprescription Zyrtec-D was approved for the relief of symptoms due to hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, itching of the nose or throat, and nasal congestion. Zyrtec-D is also approved for reducing swelling of nasal passages, for relief of sinus congestion and pressure, and for restoring freer breathing through the nose due to hay fever and other upper respiratory allergies. Zyrtec-D is not approved for the relief of itching due to hives.

Zyrtec is marketed and distributed by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, based in Fort Washington, Pa.

Source: Food and Drug Administration

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