Allegra tackles allergies, OTC rivals this spring
In the year leading up to the switch of Allegra, Sanofi generated $214.2 million in U.S. prescription sales of Allegra, largely due to the generic competition against its Allegra D formulation. Now Sanofi is looking to virtually match those annual sales figures within the much more profitable nonprescription venue with the company’s successful switch from prescription to OTC this spring.
Considering the brand generated $30.4 million across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart) in a little more than six weeks on shelf — the brand launched March 1 — clearing $200 million in its first year may not be such a high hurdle. By comparison, Zyrtec and Claritin generated $50.5 million and $41.6 million, respectively, for the 12 weeks ended April 17, according to SymphonyIRI Group. Multiply those six weeks of Allegra sales by two, and the $60.8 million would place Allegra in the lead, as compared to the 12-week Zyrtec and Claritin sales.
The Allegra switch is reminiscent of Prilosec OTC with its purple color scheme — and those purple-powered displays certainly drew the attention of plenty of allergy sufferers just as spring allergy season kicked off in earnest.
And while Allegra marks the third second-generation antihistamine to reach OTC shelves, there just may be enough new allergy sufferers looking for relief this year as to eliminate much cannibalization. A wet spring across the nation has made for ideal allergen-creating conditions — the growth of ragweed and an increase in mold.
Early results from a recent cross-sectional national allergy study from Quest Diagnostics suggested that extended exposure to allergens, especially ragweed and mold, can increase the number of people who become sensitized to allergens. In other words, the longer and more intense the exposure to ragweed and mold, the more people with itchy eyes and runny noses. In the study, sensitization to common ragweed grew 15% nationally, while mold grew 12%.
“Considering that the ragweed season traditionally begins in August, Americans suffering from ragweed allergies should expect a very long summer,” stated Stanley Naides, medical director of immunology at Quest Diagnostics.
Between 10% and 20% of Americans are sensitive to ragweed, and increased exposure to ragweed has been shown to increase an individual’s risk of developing a ragweed allergy or experiencing more severe allergy symptoms. A separate study published in March 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that the ragweed season was nearly a month longer in 2009 than it was in 1995.
Mold, as a precipitation-affected aeroallergen, also may increase in prevalence with a warmer climate.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Allergies Mid-Year Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.