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Blockbuster DrugsThe Rise and Fall of the Pharmaceutical Industry$
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Jie Jack Li

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199737680

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199737680.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 October 2021

Antihistamines as Allergy Drugs

Antihistamines as Allergy Drugs

(p.67) 4 Antihistamines as Allergy Drugs
Blockbuster Drugs

Jie Jack Li

Oxford University Press

Most blockbusters have at least one thing in common—they are all widely prescribed to treat common illnesses such as hypertension, high cholesterol, pain, ulcers, and depression. Allergies are another malady that afflicts more and more Americans. To many, allergies are no longer an inconvenience but a major annoyance with constant sneezing and itching. For them, an allergy medicine is often needed to relieve the symptoms. As a consequence, many antihistamine allergy drugs, especially nonsedating antihistamines, have become blockbuster drugs. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. More than 50 million Americans have allergies and spend in excess of $18 billion a year on medical treatment. The word allergy was coined by Austrian pediatrician Clemens von Pirquet in 1906. According to his definition, allergy was manifest in cases of serum sickness, hay fever, sensitivities to mosquito bites and beestings, and various idiosyncratic food reactions, as well as in individuals who had been exposed to, or successfully immunized against, common infectious diseases such as diphtheria and tuberculosis. Today, the word allergy is broadly associated with allergic rhinitis, asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. Allergies are the malady of civilization. In ancient times, allergies like hay fever and food allergies were virtually nonexistent. The first report of a case of allergy did not appear until the 1870s in Europe. The beginning of the 20th century saw a sharp rise in allergies. Nowadays, hay fever is so prevalent in the United Kingdom, that there are 1.4 to 1.8 million students who are drowsy from taking antihistamines. U.K. educational authorities even schedule the exams away from the peak of pollen season. In the United States, hay fever is the number-one chronic disease. Until we learn how to turn off the genes responsible for hay fever and asthma, these afflictions will remain among the most irritating of our existence. During evolution, humans developed the immune system to fight the real danger of foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. It turns out that the human body has two types of responses toward tissue damage or infection.

Keywords:   Advertisements, Belladonna, Carboxylic acid, Dramamine, Ephedrine, Fenoldopam, Heterocyles, Immunology, Leukotrienes, Mast cells

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