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Greater number of allergy sufferers turn to OTC solutions, CHPA, Nielsen study finds


WASHINGTON — New research from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and Nielsen released Thursday indicated that more Americans are suffering from seasonal allergies and are choosing nonprescription treatments over prescription medications.

“Less than 20 years ago nearly all allergy treatment options were prescription, but now the script is flipped and most of the options are OTC,” stated Scott Melville, president and CEO of CHPA. “Access and affordability has increased significantly now that more allergy medicines have switched from prescription to OTC.”

“Chronic diseases like allergies can be a burden on health, finances and time,” added Andrew Mandzy, director of the Health & Wellness Growth & Strategy team at Nielsen. “Now people have more options than ever for self-care, like leveraging online sources to find health-related information or by using OTC medicines as a first line of defense.”

According to the research, approximately 28% of Americans in 2015 reported that they suffer from seasonal allergies, with the majority of allergy sufferers (60%) saying they choose OTC medicines alone as their preferred treatment method. This represents a 20% increase from 2009.

The study also showed 75% of allergy sufferers purchased an OTC medication either on its own or in addition to a prescription treatment in 2015, compared to just 66% in 2009, suggesting that consumers have adjusted their behavior as more OTC options have become available over the past several years.

Although a custom survey in the report also showed that fewer allergy sufferers are going to healthcare providers for treatment, survey respondents did say that HCPs remain an important resource in managing their allergies. In 2015, 28% of allergy sufferers went to see an HCP for treatment (compared to 31% in 2009), and 44% of them stated that the HCP influenced their choice of OTC allergy medicines.

“It’s gratifying to know that patients still look at healthcare providers as an important part of their allergy management,” commented Cary Sennett, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Even though most allergy medicines are conveniently available over-the-counter today, doctors still play a vital role in allergy diagnosis and management, especially for those who have a more severe form of the disease and for those who also have allergic asthma.”

These findings are part of a multi-year study on patient behavior, preferences, treatment dynamics, and costs, which are published in the new report, “Assessing Consumer Benefits of Allergy Rx-to-OTC Switches.”


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