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Concerns about intranasal corticosteroids for over-the-counter use: position statement of the Joint Task Force for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American College of Al


The Joint Task Force for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology was charged with formulating a position paper regarding the potential release of intranasal corticosteroids for over-the-counter use. We took the position that safety issues regarding this proposal would be our sole concern. We reviewed the literature to evaluate the frequency and severity of potential adverse events related to the administration of intranasal corticosteroids. We limited this review to 5 areas: (1) effects on growth, (2) ocular effects, (3) effects on bone, (4) effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and (5) local adverse effects. After review of the available data, we concluded that intranasal corticosteroids should remain prescription-only drugs. Patients receiving an intranasal corticosteroid should be instructed in its use and that use should be monitored by a physician or an appropriately trained medical provider (eg, nurse practitioner or physician assistant) under the direct supervision of a physician. This conclusion was reached based on the evidence that corticosteroids administered by any route, including the intranasal route, have the potential to cause adverse effects in all the areas noted herein. Our conclusion was strengthened by the fact that these adverse effects can be insidious and therefore not evident for many years; there is the potential for overuse; patients could also have access to other forms of topically administered corticosteroids, thus increasing their total dose; and individuals vary in their susceptibility to corticosteroid-induced adverse effects. We were also influenced to take this position knowing that generally reassuring data regarding the use of respiratory tract-administered corticosteroids are based on mean data and that all such studies have shown outliers in whom adverse effects were evident. Thus, as stated, we recommend that intranasal corticosteroids remain prescription-only drugs.

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