New items find work in busy allergy season

There’s a lot happening in the allergy space right now. Chattem’s Nasacort Allergy 24HR recently hit store shelves, and in a little more than 10 weeks on the shelf the nasal corticosteroid has already generated $33.6 million in sales across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI. Meanwhile, Merck’s allergy switch hopeful Singulair ran into a snag with the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee, which voted 11-to-4 against the switch. But with the FDA’s recent expansion as to which medicines belong in the self-care market, there are precedents in Procter & Gamble’s Prilosec OTC and Merck’s Oxytrol.

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

And speaking of Merck, the pharmaceutical giant has agreed to sell its consumer division to Bayer, which includes the venerable Claritin franchise. It begs the question, is a possible Clarinex switch in the offing?

Meanwhile, Reckitt Benckiser has extended its Mucinex brand into the allergy set with the appropriately named Mucinex Allergy, and McNeil Consumer line extended its Zyrtec brand with a differentiated format — dissolve tabs.

All this as the spring allergy season is off to a fast start. “[Allergy], I can tell you, is roaring in the Northeast,” Matt Mannelly, president and CEO of Prestige Brands, recently told analysts.

And there are more sufferers as climate change is extending allergy seasons.

If Nasacort continues with its current momentum, the brand will have first-year sales exceeding $170 million, which would make it the fourth best-selling allergy remedy on the market behind Zyrtec ($318.7 million for the 52 weeks ended April 20 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI), Claritin ($212.9 million) and Allegra ($202.3 million).

“I’ve seen some very unique marketing tools that Sanofi is using that I haven’t seen with other products,” Laura Mahecha, healthcare industry expert for the Kline Group, told Drug Store News, referencing an interactive shelf display that gives a whole new meaning to the term “shelf talker.” With the press of a button, shoppers have the opportunity to watch a brief tutorial on what made Nasacort different and why they should consider Nasacort as their allergy remedy of choice. “It’s enough to get the launch going,” Mahecha said. “It did a good job of explaining what makes it different from the pills that are available and helps differentiate it from Allegra and Zyrtec.”

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