Afrin (nasal spray)

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Two spray bottles of Afrin: one for children and another for adults

Afrin is a brand of nasal spray used to ease nasal congestion and sinusitis that is available over the counter in the USA, distributed by Bayer.


Afrin was first sold as a prescription medication in 1966. After finding substantial early success as a prescription medication, it became available as an over-the-counter drug in 1975. Schering did not engage in heavy advertising until 1986.[1] From the late 1980s to mid 1990s, Afrin featured in many notable television advertisements. Some of these commercials showed men, women, and children using other brands of nasal sprays, and then standing upside down or hanging upside down from playground equipment to prevent their nasal spray from dripping out. This was juxtaposed with Afrin users having no problems.

Mechanism of action[edit]

Afrin's active ingredient oxymetazoline is an alpha adrenergic agonist that induces vasoconstriction. In that respect, it is similar to phenylephrine.[2][3]


  1. ^ Dougherty, Phillip H. (20 October 1986). "Advertising; Afrin Goes After Users Of Nasal Decongestants". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  2. ^ "Oxymetazoline". DrugBank. 2005-06-13. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  3. ^ "Phenylephrine". Medscape. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 

External links[edit]