Allergy sufferers find relief with mobile apps
NEW YORK — Mobile apps may be helping to boost an allergy sufferer’s awareness of his or her condition, and potentially prompting them to seek relief at the local pharmacy, as apps tracking regional allergens become more prominent.
For example, all 2013 Ford models have been enabled to access the Pollen.com‘s Allergy Alert app to give drivers a safe way to check the potential for scratchy eyes, sore throats and runny noses while on the go. "Mobile health apps are changing the way consumers manage their own wellness," explained Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Services.
"Our experience with allergy sufferers suggests a strong demand for real-time information," added Dan Barton, U.S. head of product development for IMS Health, which developed the app. "The technology we’ve applied in the Ford SYNC AppLink-equipped car helps drivers better prepare for the allergens they may encounter on the road."
WebMD Health recently got in on the allergy app action with the launch of its branded app just before the spring allergy season started taking hold this year.
Delayed allergy season may be longer, worse
While cough-cold season 2012-2013 will go down in the record books as one of the better seasons in recent memory, the spring allergy season has been delayed into May thanks to recent storm systems traveling across the central United States into the Northeast that have triggered a "faux spring." Temperatures rose briefly and dipped, causing pollen counts to grow and then fall.
For the 52 weeks ended April 21, sales of the three leading allergy tablets were all down: Zyrtec down by 3.8%; Claritin down 1.2%; and Allegra down 14.9%.
"This is a late-developing allergy season," explained Scott Hanslip, director of sales for IMS Consumer Health, to DSN. Through the beginning of May, incidence of allergy was down 12.6%. "[And] certain pockets are way off where they should be," Hanslip added. North Central allergy incidence was down 28% for the spring season, for example.
But the same weather conditions that have delayed allergy incidence may be setting the stage for a stronger and extended spring allergy season, noted the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "Severe weather patterns can bring higher temperatures, higher pollen levels and increased exposure to outdoor mold, resulting in spring allergies that can peak stronger and last longer," stated Bill Berger, spokesman for the Allergy and Asthma Associates of Southern California.
As part of the AAFA’s annual ranking of projected nasal allergy problem areas, allergies may become more severe across the South as the season progresses. Overall, 15 of the top 25 cities on this year’s ranking are in the South, AAFA stated.
Expectations are that allergy sales heading into the summer season will swing positive, pushing category sales for that period as much as 5% higher than last year.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Allergy Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.
Push for greater immunization authority
When it announced its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2013 earnings in April, Rite Aid noted that it performed 2.4 million flu vaccinations, as well as 400,000 vaccinations for pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough. Walgreens administered more than 6.5 million immunizations in 2012, and CVS’ totals reached more than 3.5 million.
Suffice it to say, pharmacy retailers have grown rapidly to become a popular destination for a medical service that was once limited to physician offices and clinics. But while pharmacists in all 50 states can administer vaccinations, local regulations vary — some restrict pharmacist-administered vaccinations by age, while others can vaccinate against diseases like hepatitis A and B, under certain conditions.
In late April, Pharmacy Choice and Access Now marked World Immunization Week and urged expansion of immunization authority for pharmacists as a way to increase access to them for patients. In March, Wyoming’s state senate passed a bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe and administer vaccinations to patients ages 7 years and older. In May, legislation in Pennsylvania to expand the range of vaccinations pharmacists can give got support from doctors.