The need state for allergy remedies is significant, according to documents filed by Merck recently in support of its application to switch Singulair. Allergies represent the fifth most-common chronic disease in the United States, impacting 1-in-5 Americans. As many as 90% of allergy sufferers self-treat their condition, and 58% only use an OTC or herbal remedy to relieve their allergy symptoms.
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As many as 40% of allergy sufferers report moderate to severe symptoms, and 38% report those symptoms are intolerable. Of those who report moderate to severe symptoms, for more than 90% that means curtailing daily activities, and for 80% it means having a difficult time getting to sleep.
Allergic rhinitis accounts for 10 million missed or lost workdays per year. Also each year, allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient office visits, primarily in the spring and fall; seasonal allergies account for more than half of all allergy visits.
The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $14.5 billion, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Nearly 85% ($12.3 billion) is for direct costs, including $1.3 billion for doctor office visits and $11 billion for medications ($7 billion prescription, $4 billion OTC).
Approximately 40 million Americans have indoor-outdoor allergies as their primary allergy — many people with allergies usually have more than one type of allergy. Approximately 10 million people are allergic to cat dander, the most common pet allergy. The most common indoor-outdoor allergy triggers are tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mite and cockroach allergen; and cat, dog and rodent dander.
Approximately 4% of allergy sufferers have eye allergies as their primary allergy, often caused by many of the same triggers as indoor-outdoor allergies.
To help target this group, OTC eye care company Alcon last fall regrouped its eye-allergy products into one easy-to-shop solution. The eyeSolution portfolio includes Clear Care Solution for contact lens wearers, ICaps Eye Vitamins, Naphcon-A Eye Allergy Drops, Opti-Free, Systane and Zaditor Eye Allergy Drops.