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New concepts in the management of adverse drug reactions

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Our understanding of drug reactions and their management has changed markedly in recent years with the development of several new concepts. Epidermal cell death seen in Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) may result from Fas-Fas ligand–mediated apoptosis. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) contains anti-Fas antibodies that can abrogate apoptosis. Most studies on IVIG in SJS and TEN reported improvement in arresting disease progression and reduction in time to healing. Furthermore, several studies have dispelled the myth of sulfonamide cross-reactivity. Immune-mediated reactions against antibacterial sulfonamides are directed against two unique side chains that non–antibacterial sulfonamides do not contain. Certain patients seem to have a genetic predisposition for “multiple drug sensitivities.” Hence, they may react to several drugs that are not necessarily cross-reacting. Also, multiple studies have shown that IgE-mediated nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) cross-reactivity is uncommon. Rather, it is cyclooxygenase (COX) 1 inhibition that results in pseudoallergic reactions to multiple NSAIDs. Several studies have indicated that selective COX-2 inhibitors can be safely administered in patients with aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease and NSAID-induced cutaneous reactions, although their use has been curtailed by their cardiovascular side effects. Biological agents, such as infliximab, are being increasingly used for a variety of diseases and have caused adverse reactions in some patients. Studies differ as to whether concomitant immunosuppressive use with infliximab affects the development of drug-specific antibodies and infusion reactions. Successful desensitization protocols have been developed for reactions to some of these agents.

Keywords: Drug allergy; NSAIDs; Stevens-Johnson syndrome; drug cross-reactivity; drug hypersensitivity; immunoglobulin therapy; infliximab; pancreatic enzyme; sulfonamides; toxic epidermal necrolysis

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: From the Allergy and Immunology Section, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana

Publication date: September 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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