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by Dr. Marc Goldstein, MD, Curist Allergy Advisor 

Curist delivers FDA-approved medicines to your door at a fraction of the price of traditional brands. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time.

You’ve probably heard the names Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, and Benadryl, but have you heard of Xyzal (Levocetirizine)? 

Xyzal: The New Allergy Antihistamine on the Block

For over a decade, an allergy medicine called Xyzal (levocetirizine) has been available by prescription only.  Today, it’s available over-the-counter, and not a minute too soon. With allergies on the rise -- 2018 was called “pollengeddon” by some concerned albeit playfully clever experts -- it’s important to have as many options readily available when allergy symptoms kick in. 

What is Xyzal? How does Xyzal work?

Xyzal is an oral antihistamine that works for 24 hrs to relieve symptoms of indoor and outdoor allergies.  The way an antihistamine works is by counteracting your body’s response to allergens. When allergic individuals encounter allergens, their bodies release “histamines.”

Histamines are released in the nose, eyes, ears, skin, chest, and GI tract during allergic reactions.  In the eyes, they can cause itching. In the nose, histamines can cause sneezing, itching, and watery mucus in the nose.  In the lips, roof of the mouth, and back of the throat, histamines produce itching and/or swelling. In the skin, they can produce hives.  An antihistamine effectively disarms these particles, and temporarily quells your irritating symptoms.  

Antihistamines that you can purchase over-the-counter include Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and the older standby Benadryl (diphenhydramine).  And now you can add Xyzal (levocetirizine) to the list.

What is Levocetirizine?

Very simply, levocetirizine is the active ingredient in Xyzal. It’s the medicine that works to improve symptoms.   

Xyzal vs Levocetirizine:  What’s the Difference?

What differentiates one antihistamine from another is the active ingredient: the ingredient that is biologically active, i.e. the medicine. It’s that intimidating word on the label that no one knows how to pronounce, in this case ‘levocetirizine’. The name most people are familiar with is the marketing brand used by a drug company to sell the medicine, in this case ‘Xyzal’. So to summarize, Xyzal is the name of a brand which has levocetirizine as its active ingredient.  

Xyzal Generic: Allergy Medicine Minus the Name

According to the FDA:

A generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, and performance characteristics.
Generic medicines work the same as brand-name medicines
A generic medicine works in the same way and provides the same clinical benefit as its brand-name version. This standard applies to all FDA-approved generic medicines. A generic medicine is the same as a brand-name medicine in dosage, safety, effectiveness, strength, stability, and quality, as well as in the way it is taken and should be used.
In more cynical words:

Xyzal = Levocetirizine + Marketing Budget = $ Higher Prices 

For instance, check out Curist levocetirizine for significant savings relative to the brand Xyzal for the same strength medicine.

Ok, So What Allergy Symptoms Does Xyzal (Levocetirizine) Treat?

Levocetirizine temporarily relieves symptoms due to hay fever or other respiratory allergies: 

  • runny nose 
  • sneezing 
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • itching of the nose or throat 
  • and other commonly associated symptoms

The great thing is that in clinical studies, it provided noticeable allergy symptom relief in under 1 hour -- twice as fast as Claritin (loratadine).  It was also found to be just as effective after 24 hours (which beats Benadryl by 6 times). And it is safe for adults and children over 2 years old. 

Does Xyzal (Levocetirizine) Make You Drowsy?

The answer is maybe, the active ingredient in Xyzal, levocetirizine, may make you drowsy. As a newer generation antihistamine, levocetirizine was designed to reduce drowsiness especially when compared to first generation antihistamines like Benadryl. In studies, only 6% of users experienced drowsiness when taking Xyzal. If you drowsiness is an issue for you when taking levocetirizine, consider taking  in the evening before bed.

Does The Prescription Matter? Over-the-counter vs Prescription Xyzal (Levocetirizine)

Until 2017, levocetirizine tablets were available in the US only by prescription from a doctor. In January 2017, the FDA deregulated levocetirizine and allowed it for sale without a prescription (over-the-counter). Today, levocetirizine is sold both as a prescription drug and as an over-the-counter drug - but because of the deregulation in 2017, the prescription version and the over-the-counter version of levocetirizine are the same medicine at the same strength (levocetirizine 5 mg). In fact, many people find that purchasing levocetirizine over-the-counter is less expensive than through the prescription pharmacy for the same relief.

Does Xyzal (levocetirizine) Have a Decongestant?

Levocetirizine, the active ingredient medicine in Xyzal, is not a decongestant. Unlike brand Claritin, where there is a combination pill that includes a decongestant to the original formula (known as Claritin-D), there is not such a combination with Xyzal having a decongestant. 

Is Xyzal (Levocetirizine) The Best Antihistamine For My Allergies?

Finding the right antihistamine for you may take a little bit of trial.  Everyone’s body is unique and responds differently to various allergy medicines. So if other antihistamines have not worked for you (or have stopped working for you), levocetirizine may be a the best alternative to try. Levocetirizine is available at Curist at a fraction of the cost of brand name Xyzal.

To learn more about Xyzal, please visit our Xyzal FAQ page.

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This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.