Bad Allergy Season Is Good for Retailers; Counseling Moves Allergy Products in Drug Stores

Article excerpt

More than 41 million Americans suffer from some kind of seasonal allergy.

While all this sneezing and sniffling may be very unpleasant for the afflicted, it's certainly good for drug retailers and manufacturers of allergy products. Sales have increased substantially since the Rx-to-OTC switch of Benadryl, a Warner-Lambert product, in 1985, said Jack Voller, W-L's category director. They're "up significantly this year, too, because this has been a bad season for the person with allergies."

Manufacturers predict that as other products make this switch, the market will grow sharply. Marion Merrell Dow Inc.'s Seldane and Seldane-D and Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc.'s Hismanal are also expected to be approved by the FDA for OTC sale (for late news on Seldane, see "Latelines," page 5).

CONSUMER CONFUSION: With the growth in products positioned for cough, cold, allergy, and sinus problems, consumers are confused about what to take, said Voller. Changing promotional strategies also have not helped. "A number of products primarily positioned for cold symptoms during that season change their advertising and position themselves for allergies in the appropriate period," he noted.

Some retailers have been addressing this problem by putting up allergy end caps or displays, said Voller. Seasonal displays--marked allergy or cough/cold--help eliminate any confusion.

Manufacturers are also trying to label products according to symptoms, Voller went on. "For instance, Benadryl Cold and Benadryl Allergy Sinus are clearly marked for those ailments. W-L changed the name of Benadryl Plus to Benadryl Cold last year," he added. Shipping of the allergy/sinus version of Benadryl has just started.

ADS AND ADDS: Over at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products in Liberty Corner, N.J., spokesman Doug Petkus noted that advertising will be very "aggressive" for the company's Chlor-Trimeton line. Schering will continue to run a 30-second TV spot for Chlor-Trimeton Allergy Season Index, which pinpoints areas in the country where allergies will be most prevalent each year. "It's a useful research tool," Petkus commented. "It helps us put together regional marketing campaigns is we know that the allergy season will be more intense in one area or another. It also provides the media with information on similar trends."

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES: As Voller noted, allergies manifest themselves in many different ways. There are traditional upper respiratory allergies with watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose. Other allergies surface in skin conditions. Retailers thus have an opportunity to sell creams to treat seasonal allergic skin reactions as well, he said.

Since sinus problems are also triggered by allergy conditions, sinus medications are part of this overall category. In a recent move, Burroughs Wellcome Co., Research Triangle Park, N.C., expanded its Actifed line to include Sinus Daytime Nighttime.

Calling it "the first sinus product offering both daytime and nighttime formulas in a single package," the medication is packaged in quantities of 18 white daytime and six blue nighttime tablets or caplets, a complete supply for three days. …

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