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Afrin is a brand of nasal spray used to ease nasal congestion that is available over-the-counter in the USA. The generic name for this medication is Oxymetazoline hydrochloride. While useful in the short-term, 12-hour relief for sinus congestion, prolonged use (in excess of three days) may result in rebound congestion (rhinitis medicamentosa). This can cause a dependency on the product.
Afrin is distributed by Schering-Plough HealthCare Products.
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. 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. Currently, there are reports of anosmia with prolonged use of Afrin.
Afrin, a.k.a. oxymetazoline, is an alpha adrenergic agonist that induces vasoconstriction. In that respect it is similar to phenylephrine. (http://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00935, http://reference.medscape.com/drug/neosynephrine-iv-phenylephrine-iv-342444#10)