A third study evaluated single, rising doses of NASONEX Nasal Spray, 50 mcg (1000, 2000, and 4000 mcg/day), orally administered mometasone furoate (2000, 4000, and 8000 mcg/day), orally administered dexamethasone (200, 400, and 800 mcg/day), and placebo (administered at the end of each series of doses) in 24 male volunteers (22 to 39 years of age). Dose administrations were separated by at least 72 hours. Determination of serial plasma cortisol levels at 8 AM and for the 24-hour period following each treatment were used to calculate the plasma cortisol area under the curve (AUC 0–24 ). In addition, 24-hour urinary free cortisol levels were collected prior to initial treatment administration and during the period immediately following each dose. No statistically significant decreases in the plasma cortisol AUC, 8 AM cortisol levels, or 24-hour urinary free cortisol levels were observed in volunteers treated with either NASONEX Nasal Spray, 50 mcg or oral mometasone, as compared with placebo treatment. Conversely, nearly all volunteers treated with the three doses of dexamethasone demonstrated abnormal 8 AM cortisol levels (defined as a cortisol level <10 mcg/dL), reduced 24-hour plasma AUC values, and decreased 24-hour urinary free cortisol levels, as compared to placebo treatment.
Despite these legitimate concerns, I think the FDA was reassured by the experience other countries have had with OTC INS. If used as directed the potential for significant complications is very low. I’m hopeful that other molecules with better risk/benefit ratios will come to market and that competition will result in cost savings for patients while creating added convenience. When that day arrives, allergists and other physicians will still have an important role in counseling patients as to which OTC INS are best for them, much like we do for OTC antihistamines.