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Efficacy and safety of ketotifen eye drops in the treatment of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis


Background: Ketotifen blocks histamine H1 receptors, stabilises mast cells, and prevents eosinophil accumulation. These multiple, pharmacological mechanisms provided the rationale for assessing the efficacy and safety of ketotifen 0.025% eye drops in subjects with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) in an environmental setting.

Methods: This was a double masked, randomised, multicentre trial conducted in Australia. Subjects were randomly assigned to ketotifen fumarate 0.025% ophthalmic solution, placebo (as vehicle), or levocabastine hydrochloride 0.05% ophthalmic suspension, twice daily in each eye for a 4 week period. Subjects were assessed at follow up (days 5–8) and termination (days 25–31) visits. The primary efficacy variable was the responder rate, based on the subjects’ assessment of global efficacy at the follow up visit.

Results: 519 subjects were randomised to treatment. At the follow up visit, the responder rate, based on subjects’ assessment of global efficacy, was significantly greater in the ketotifen group (49.5%) than in the placebo group (33.0%) for subjects with a positive diagnostic test for pollen allergy (p = 0.02). The investigators’ assessment of responder rates also showed that ketotifen was superior to placebo (p = 0.001). Ketotifen produced a significantly better outcome than levocabastine (p<0.05) for relief of signs and symptoms of SAC, at both the follow up and the termination visit. The type and frequency of adverse events were similar across treatment groups.

Conclusions: In an environmental setting, ketotifen fumarate 0.025% ophthalmic solution was well tolerated and effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of SAC, and in preventing their recurrence. Ketotifen consistently showed the best efficacy in comparison with both placebo and levocabastine. These results indicate that ketotifen eye drops are a valuable treatment option for this condition.

  • allergic conjunctivitis
  • ketotifen
  • levocabastine

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