March 26, 2012 -- The FDA today approved Qnasl, a "dry" nasal spray, for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms.
Qnasl is a powdered form of beclomethasone dipropionate, a corticosteroid. Allergists consider these drugs to be a first-line treatment for people with allergic rhinitis, which causes a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes for allergy sufferers.
Liquid forms of this and other intranasal corticosteroids have been available for years. But many patients don't like them, says Gary Gross, MD, co-founder of the Dallas Allergy & Asthma Center, who helped run Qnasl clinical trials for Teva Pharmaceuticals.
"With the corticosteroid nasal sprays, it's important for patients to use them consistently," Gross tells WebMD. "But some people don't like the drip down the back of the nose, the feeling of moisture. They are reluctant to use currently available sprays."
Now they have another option. Qnasl is approved for the treatment of seasonal and year-long allergies in adults and in adolescents aged 12 and older.
In clinical trials, the most common Qnasl side effects were nasal discomfort, nosebleed, and headache.
Because corticosteroids dampen immune responses, they increase a person's risk of infection. People using Qnasl and similar drugs should avoid people with chickenpox or measles. They should not use the drug if they have tuberculosis or any untreated infection.
Corticosteroids also slow wound healing. You should not use Qnasl or other intranasal corticosteroids if you have a sore in your nose or if you had a recent nose injury or nose surgery. Long-term use of intranasal corticosteroids can lead to a condition in which the adrenal glands do not make enough steroid hormones.
Qnasl is the only powder-form corticosteroid now on the market. But it's not the first time such a drug has been available. Previous powder-form corticosteroid nose sprays used the CFC propellants now banned in the U.S.
Qnasl uses the environmentally friendly propellant HFA. Each canister holds 120 sprays, enough for two spritzes in each nostril once daily for 30 days. The canisters have meters showing the remaining number of doses.
Teva says Qnasl will be available by prescription beginning this April. A price hasn't been announced, but Teva says it will be "competitive."