Astemizole (marketed under the brand name Hismanal, developmental code R43512) was a second-generation antihistamine drug that has a long duration of action. Astemizole was discovered by Janssen Pharmaceutica in 1977. It has been withdrawn from the market in most countries because of rare but potentially fatal side effects (QTc interval prolongation and related arrhythmias due to hERG channel blockade).
Astemizole is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and competitively binds to histamine H1 receptor sites in the gastrointestinal tract, uterus, blood vessels, and bronchial muscle. This suppresses the formation of edema and pruritus (caused by histamine).
Despite some earlier reports that astemizole does not cross the blood–brain barrier, several studies have shown high permeability and high binding to protein folds associated with Alzheimer's.
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^Di, Li; Kerns, Edward H; Fan, Kristi; McConnell, Oliver J; Carter, Guy T (7 March 2003). "High throughput artificial membrane permeability assay for blood–brain barrier". European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 38 (3): 223–232. doi:10.1016/S0223-5234(03)00012-6.