What is Loratadine?
Loratadine, the active ingredient in Claritin, is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine causes allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose. Loratadine may also be used to treat skin hives and itching in people with chronic skin reactions.
Claritin Side Effects
- Itching / swelling (especially of the face / tongue / throat)
- Trouble breathing
- Allergic reactions
- Vocal cord thickening
Vocal Cord Thickening
Vocal cord thickening is a known side effect of Claritin, particularly for women between the ages of 50 and 59, who also take the medication Skelaxin and have Facet joint syndrome, according to an eHealthMe study. Among 22,756 patients who reported side effects from Claritin, 9 people (0.04%) had vocal cord thickening.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), from January 2004 to October 2012, only 1 Claritin user reported vocal cord thickening as a side effect. However, since the agency often only receives reports of the most critical and severe cases, this number may underrepresent the complication rate of the medicine. A total of 11,098 adverse reactions to Claritin were reported during the same period.
Claritin Class Action
In 2001, a class action lawsuit was filed by a number of consumer groups over Schering-Plough’s marketing of Claritin. The complaint alleged that Claritin T.V. ads misled consumers with wording that suggested every person taking it would obtain relief from their symptoms, and that Bayer charged too much for the drug.
The class action was dismissed by the New Jersey court system in 2003. As part of its ruling, the court found that advertising claims regarding Claritin’s efficacy amounted to “fluff” rather than “fraud.” The charges were dropped.
Schering-Plough Pleads Guilty to Kickback Charges
In 2004, Schering-Plough agreed to plead guilty to federal anti-kickback charges alleging that it failed to provide the best price to state Medicaid programs for Claritin, overcharging states hundreds of millions of dollars. 49 states and the District of Columbia were involved in the agreement, which required Schering-Plough to pay a $52 million fine, and face another $282 million in civil liabilities. The company’s sales practices would also be under “strict scrutiny” for 5 years, according to the agreement.
Also in 2004, a malpractice lawsuit was filed against a doctor who had prescribed Claritin D to a patient who died, allegedly as a result of the medicine’s side effects. Claritin D instructions warn that it should not be taken by people with high blood pressure (hypertension). According the the lawsuit, the doctor had information that his patient had high blood pressure but prescribed Claritin anyway. Side effects of the medicine raised the patient’s blood pressure, ultimately causing her death.