All is not as it seems…


Two new “Allegra” products are hitting the store shelves. However, they do not contain fexofenadine, the active ingredient in the original Allegra product used to treat allergies. These two new products, Allegra Anti-Itch Cooling Relief and Allegra Anti-Itch Intensive Relief, contain diphenhydramine and allantoin and are applied to the skin. The only thing they share with the original Allegra product is its name and the “look” of the packages.

The company that makes these “Allegra” products, Chattem (part of the Sanofi company), has used similar design elements from the Allegra package (e.g., purple-colored cartons, stylized Allegra name) to market the new products. The similarities reinforce the association of these products with the original Allegra product (figure 1) and can increase confusion. The fact that Allegra Anti-Itch Cooling Relief and Allegra Anti-Itch Intensive Relief contain diphenhydramine and allantoin can easily be missed. The main ingredients are not displayed on the front of the package. Someone taking another allergy or sleep aa.2medicine that contains diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl) can develop hallucinations, high fever, a fast heart rate, and convulsions, requiring medical treatment. Also, people who are allergic to diphenhydramine may not realize that they should not use these new Allegra products.

Here’s what you can do: When buying any over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, don’t rely only on familiar brand names to ensure you have the right product. Read the package label carefully. In particular, read the Drug Facts label on the package or bottle to find out the main active ingredient or ingredients.

Created on June 24, 2013

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