Is Fexofenadine Available to Buy Over The Counter?

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Green box of chanel branded 120mg fexofenadine with 3 loose tablets in front of it

Published: 23 October 2020

Fexofenadine is an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of allergy and hay fever. It is available to buy over the counter in certain countries such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and other countries around Europe. However, you cannot buy fexofenadine over the counter in the UK, as it requires a prescription.

 

What is Fexofenadine?

Fexofenadine is a new generation antihistamine which can relieve symptoms of hay fever and allergy. This includes symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny nose and itchy and watery eyes. It can also be used to treat chronic idiopathic urticaria (hives lasting longer than 6 weeks). It works by blocking the release of histamine, a natural substance that the body produces in response to allergy. It is a non-drowsy antihistamine and its low side-effect profile means that it is well tolerated amongst users. The dose is one tablet daily, with fexofenadine taking 1 hour to work and lasting for up to 24 hours. It is considered to be one of the stronger antihistamines, as a it has a high success rate.

 

How can I obtain Fexofenadine?

In the UK, you need to make an appointment with your GP in order for them to issue you with a prescription for fexofenadine. Alternatively, you can buy fexofenadine from an online pharmacy after completing an online consultation. The consultation will be assessed by a doctor or prescribing pharmacist, who will determine whether the product is safe for you to take.

If you are in another country such as America, Australia, Canada, or any of the countries where it is licensed to sell OTC, you can purchase fexofenadine from a pharmacy without a prescription. You should check with the pharmacist to make sure that it is suitable for you to take.

 

The Verdict

It is unsure why fexofenadine is not available over the counter. Given its increasing popularity and low side-effect profile, it still requires a prescription. Prescribing of fexofenadine in the UK is increasing, with other drugs such as cetirizine, loratadine, desloratadine and levocetirizine showing a decline in prescribing. Annual sales have exceeded $1 billion annually, and in the UK, it is the second most prescribed antihistamine after cetirizine. It is estimated that fexofenadine will overtake cetirizine very soon.