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Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 October 22; 287(6400): 1199–1200.
PMCID: PMC1549449

Mechanism of action of antipruritic drugs.


Astemizole and terfenadine, two potent non-sedative H1 antihistamines, had no effect on itch measured objectively as nocturnal scratching and subjectively on a 10 cm line. Trimeprazine, however, a more sedative but less potent H1 antihistamine, was antipruritic, as was nitrazepam, a sedative benzodiazepine. We concluded (a) that antipruritic drugs act centrally by a property related to sedation; (b) H1 receptor antagonists have a peripheral antipruritic action only when itch is due to histamine release, as in the wealing disorders. Thus the new nonsedative H1 antihistamines have no place in the treatment of itch from other causes.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Felix R, Shuster S. A new method for the measurement of itch and the response to treatment. Br J Dermatol. 1975 Sep;93(3):303–312. [PubMed]
  • Summerfield JA, Welch ME. The measurement of itch with sensitive limb movement meters. Br J Dermatol. 1980 Sep;103(3):275–281. [PubMed]
  • Nicholson AN, Stone BM. Performance studies with the H1-histamine receptor antagonists, astemizole and terfenadine. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1982 Feb;13(2):199–202. [PubMed]
  • Hüther KJ, Renftle G, Barraud N, Burke JT, Koch-Weser J. Inhibitory activity of terfenadine on histamine-induced skin wheals in man. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1977 Nov 14;12(3):195–199. [PubMed]
  • Reinberg A, Levi F, Guillet P, Burke JT, Nicolai A. Chronopharmacological study of antihistamines in man with special references to terfenadine. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1978 Dec 1;14(4):245–252. [PubMed]
  • Wright DJ, Weller MP. Neuropharmacological agents modifying endotoxin-induced changes in mice. J R Soc Med. 1980 Jun;73(6):431–436. [PubMed]
  • Albert SA, Shires GT, 3rd, Illner H, Shires GT. Effects of naloxone in hemorrhagic shock. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1982 Sep;155(3):326–332. [PubMed]
  • Naloxone in shock. Lancet. 1980 Dec 20;2(8208-8209):1360–1360. [PubMed]

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