According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Singulair is the brand name of a medication called montelukast. It is a leukotrine receptor antagonist that blocks leukotrines. These are chemicals that trigger an allergic response in the human body. Singulair is prescribed by doctors to treat allergy symptoms and exercise-induced asthma. It is considered a long-term treatment and is often prescribed indefinitely. Singulair does not cause drowsiness, so it is often preferred to other sleep-inducing medications.
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According to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a generic version of Singulair is expected in September 2012. This is when the patent on the brand-name drug expires. A generic version of Singulair is expected to be virtually identical in effectiveness but cost significantly less.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Accolate is the brand name of the drug zafirlukast. It is a leukotrine receptor antagonist like Singulair. By blocking the chemicals that prompt allergic reactions, Accolate is an effective long-term treatment for both allergies and asthma instead of Singulair. A generic version of Accolate is expected to be offered in April 2011 when the patent on the drug expires. This is 17 months before a generic version of Singulair is expected.
Over-the-counter antihistamine medication is an alternative to Singulair for mild allergy symptoms. These medications are better known by brand names like Claritin, Benadryl and Alavert. These drugs should only be taken to address short-term symptoms--they are not considered a long-term treatment like Singulair. Unlike Singulair, they are known to cause drowsiness.
More severe allergy symptoms could require a doctor's prescription for a pharmaceutical-grade antihistamine as an alternative to Singulair. These include desloratadine, known by the brand name Clarinex; cetirizine, known by the brand name Zyrtec; and fexofenadine, known by the brand name Allegra.
Corticosteroids are used as an alternative to Singulair only in the most severe cases. They treat serious swelling, skin irritation and breathing difficulty. Corticosteroids can be administered in a pill, in a shot or intravenously.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, herbs can alleviate many of the symptoms that Singulair treats. However they warn that herbs are not as effective, can cause side effects and can interfere with other herbs and drugs. They advise using herbs only under the supervision of a doctor. Herbs known to work on symptoms similar to Singulair include green tea, devil's claw, goldenseal, licorice root and chamomile.