Influences on allergy, cold and flu remedies

According to an August 2013 poll of 500 AccentHealth viewers, 95% indicate that they or someone in their household has suffered from cold, flu or allergies in the past 12 months. The overwhelming majority of those sufferers sought treatment of the ailment or its symptoms (99%) — mainly in the form of over-the-counter therapies (91%).

While product consideration at the shelf level remains a driving force behind purchase decisions, with 34% of respondents indicating that in-store browsing influences their purchase of OTCs, 40% of respondents specifically indicate that OTCs purchased to treat cold, flu and allergy in the prior 12 months were the result of a doctor or other practitioner (e,g., NP/PA) recommendation. This may explain why respondents similarly cite pharmacists and physicians as being their primary sources of information on OTC medications in the category.

In addition to recommendations from healthcare professionals, brand characteristics play an important role in treatment choice. Drivers when purchasing OTC remedies for cold, flu and allergy included onset of action, product cost and ease of use.

When it comes to where to shop, drug stores emerge as the most popular destination for cold, flu and allergy remedies among all respondents surveyed. Poll findings differ, however, among respondents in households with children — where mass merchandisers are used equally with drug stores. While 7-in-10 respondents typically purchase category OTCs at drug stores, 9-in-10 indicate they are likely to purchase cold, flu and allergy medications there in the future.

If you could ask more than 6,500 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to reder@lf.com.

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