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Segmentation on the horizon

Retailers were preparing for the imminent launch of Chattem’s Nasacort Allergy 24HR nasal spray (triamcinolone intranasal) last month, clearing out quite a bit of shelf space for the new allergy remedy.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

And with good reason. The switch of a significant name brand, prescription-only remedy to OTC aisles has traditionally meant a significant uptick in sales across the category. Nasacort, more than any of the other blockbuster allergy switches, may bring incremental sales to the category because it is the first and only nasal corticosteroid to be available without a prescription.

However, the sales potential for Nasacort Allergy 24HR nasal spray is being capped at $200 million per year vs. the $380 million per year that such tablet remedies as Claritin or Zytrec generate, or the approximate $320 million that Allegra generates, according to Laura Mahecha, industry manager at Kline Healthcare. The nasal format is not expected to become as big as the competing allergy tablets, she said, because tablets are perceived to be a preferred delivery form among consumers.

Another opportunity developing within allergy is segmentation by allergen — tree pollen is predominant in the spring, grass in the summer and ragweed in the fall. Mold is considered a year-round allergy trigger but peaks in the spring.

That’s exactly the opportunity companies are pursuing on the prescription side of the business. The Food and Drug Administration last month held a public meeting of the Allergenic Products Advisory Committee to determine the safety and efficacy of Ragwitek, a short ragweed pollen allergen extract tablet for sublingual use, which is manufactured by Merck.

In December, the same committee granted approval for Stallergenes’ Oralair, which are grass allergy tablets.
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