New OTC products target seasonal allergies

May 1, 2009

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Several new OTC products are on pharmacy shelves for seasonal sufferers seeking relief.

Key Points

Along with May flowers comes the peak sneezing season for America's estimated 40 million allergy sufferers. May, in fact, has been proclaimed National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Fortunately, manufacturers have brought out a number of new products to relieve your customers' allergy symptoms.

Prestige Brands is promoting two new "first ever, drug-free, preventative solutions." Chloraseptic Allergen Block (for adults) and Little Allergies Allergen Block (for children) are topical ionized gels applied around the nostrils. The positively charged water-based gels help filter out negatively charged allergens in the air on contact, preventing them from entering the nasal passages. Each product contains approximately 150 applications and carries a suggested retail price of $14.99 (or about 10 cents per application).

McNeil Consumer Healthcare has introduced Children's Zyrtec Allergy Bubble Gum Syrup, a new sugar-free, dye-free, bubblegum-flavored product used to treat perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as upper respiratory allergies, in children ages two and older. The new OTC product is the same strength as the original prescription Zyrtec and provides 24-hour relief of indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms (sneezing; runny nose; itchy, watery eyes; itchy throat or nose).

Schering-Plough has also introduced Claritin Liqui-Gels, a non-drowsy allergy medicine in a liquid-filled capsule. Unlike some other OTC antihistamines, this product does not carry a warning for users to be careful when driving a car or operating machinery. One capsule is said to provide 24 hours of relief from allergy symptoms. A 2008 omnibus survey conducted for Schering-Plough found that 75 percent of consumers who use liquid-filled capsules prefer them over tablets. Claritin Liqui-Gels are approved for adults and children ages 6 and older.

In addition to these new treatments, Schering-Plough has created an online educational game called "Don't Blow It – The Nasal Allergy Game" ( http://www.dontblowit.com/) that teaches people about nasal allergies. "Don't Blow It" uses humor and animation to provide useful tips, such as the importance of visiting a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment. A company spokesperson says, "Because recent studies show that higher levels of carbon dioxide and a warmer atmosphere may be partly to blame for longer, more severe allergy seasons, American Forests will plant a low-allergenic tree for every new player, up to our goal of 20,000 trees."

Cobalis Corp. is scheduled to launch PreHistin soon. For its first year, it will be treated as a Web-only product ( http://www.prehistin.com/). According to the present marketing plan, it will be made available to retail stores in spring of 2010. A "pre-histamine," PreHistin has been shown in studies to modulate the body's level of the protein IgE, reducing the overproduction of histamines, the primary cause of airborne allergy symptoms.

Dana K. Cassell , a frequent contributor to Drug Topics, lives in North Stratford, New Hampshire.