Nasal allergies afflict more than 30 %1 of South Africans and substantially impacts a sufferer’s quality of life.
To date, allergic rhinitis (AR) patients in SA have had access to various allergy medication such as steroidal sprays and inhalers, antihistamines, decongestants and the like, but will now be able to trial a new device, which based on clinical trials, provides symptom control of 88 %2.
The device comes in the form of a nasal spray that contains natural cellulose powder of vegetable origin, called hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), which literally ‘shields’ the nasal membrane from airborne allergens. While this product is not scheduled, meaning patients would not need a prescription to obtain it, it is backed by over 20 clinical trials inclusive of comparative studies of cellulose powder and existing first line allergy treatments. One such trial proves HPMC to be comparable with a widely used nasal corticosteroid called ‘mometasone’ in addressing allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, tearing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and scratchy throat.3
Pharma Dynamics, an existing leader in allergy medication, dedicated itself to obtaining a license for this device which will be marketed as Nexa AllerShield™ in SA.
Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, says that in their quest to provide SA patients with new and improved molecules, Nexa AllerShield™ won hands down.
“More than 20 clinical studies demonstrate its efficacy and it contains natural cellulose that can be used by children older than 18 months, as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women.”
Used as an inactive ingredient in face masks, HPMC’s welcome side-effect was discovered by accident whilst manufacturing products for a global beauty brand at a UK factory when line managers noticed a reduction in allergy symptoms among production workers. HPMC is an ingredient used in beauty products such as face masks and bath salt. Further investigation confirmed that HPMC forms a gel-like barrier to shield the nasal membrane, protecting it from common allergens such as pollen, dust mites and animal dander.
“Nexa AllerShield™ substantially improves the rate of nasal mucus clearance and breathing4, and reduces the need for rescue medication5. Since the device is comparable to that of steroidal nasal sprays in controlling symptoms such as sneezing, a runny/itchy nose and eyes as well as nasal inflammation, it can be used as an alternative to corticosteroids,” she points out.
During clinical trials, 85 % of chronic hay fever sufferers reported a significant improvement in allergy symptoms after only three weeks of use. After another three weeks, 90 %6 of participants said their symptoms had vastly improved.
Three other clinically proven Nexa devices have also been introduced in SA, namely Nexa AllerShield Junior™, Nexa TravelShield™ and Nexa FluShield™.
In one of the trials using Nexa FluShield™, researchers noted a reduction in illness in 90 % of patients, while the duration (in days) of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) also decreased by 2,5 times compared to the same period in the previous year.7
Local experts have described the treatment as a game-changer in the way nasal allergies and congestion will be treated in South Africa going forward. Jennings says it has been a top-seller in the US, Europe and Australia, and is the only device of its kind in the country.
All four Nexa devices are available at leading SA pharmacies and retails for R 134,40 (incl VAT).