Alaway (Ketotifen)

Generic Name: Alaway

Alaway is an over-the-counter (OTC) eyedrop used to temporarily relieve itchy eyes due to pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair and dander. Alaway belongs to a group of drugs called antihistamines. It works by blocking histamine receptors and decreasing the release of histamine from cells in the body.

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Ketotifen is a relatively selective, non-competitive histamine antagonist (H1-receptor) and mast cell stabilizer. Ketotifen inhibits the release of mediators from mast cells involved in hypersensitivity reactions. Decreased chemotaxis and activation of eosinophils have also been demonstrated. Ketotifen also inhibits cAMP phosphodiesterase. Properties of ketotifen which may contribute to its antiallergic activity and its ability to affect the underlying pathology of asthma include inhibition of the development of airway hyper-reactivity associated with activation of platelets by PAF (Platelet Activating Factor), inhibition of PAF-induced accumulation of eosinophils and platelets in the airways, suppression of the priming of eosinophils by human recombinant cytokines and antagonism of bronchoconstriction due to leukotrienes. Ketotifen inhibits of the release of allergic mediators such as histamine, leukotrienes C4 and D4(SRS-A) and PAF.

Ketotifen relieves and prevents eye itchiness and/or irritation associated with most seasonal allergies. It starts working within minutes after administering the drops. The drug has not been studied in children under three. The mean elimination half life is 12 hours. Besides its anti-histaminic activity, it is also a functional leukotriene antagonist and a phosphodiesterase inhibitor.

"[O]ral ketotifen has been used in patients with asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, atopic dermatitis, chronic urticaria, cold-induced urticaria, cholinergic urticaria, exercise-induced urticaria, [systemic mast cell disease including mastocytosis, MCAS, allergic and nonallergic anaphylaxis, angioedema], and food allergy in Canada, Europe, and Mexico." Now available via prescription at US compounding pharmacies: "For adults and older children with asthma or allergic disease, the recommended dose of ketotifen is 1 mg twice daily." "FDA staff did recommend more extensive evaluations for management of urticaria."

The drug may also help relieve irritable bowel syndrome.

Burning/stinging/irritation of the eye, headache, stuffy/runny nose, bad taste in your mouth, and increased sensitivity to light may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: dry eyes, eye pain, increased redness/swelling of the eye, vision problems.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Adults and children 3 years of age and older: Put 1 drop in the affected eye(s) twice daily, every 8 to 12 hours, no more than twice per day.

Children under 3 years of age: Consult a doctor.

No drug interactions have been listed by the manufacturer. However, you should tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Not all drug interactions are known or reported and new drug interactions are continually being reported.

Alaway® is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Alaway® in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of Alaway® that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of Alaway® or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

You should not use Alaway® if you have:

  • An untreated eye infection
  • Eye irritation caused by wearing contact lenses

Alaway® is not approved for use by anyone younger than 3 years old.

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