More Americans Suffering from Seasonal Allergies and Choosing Nonprescription Medicine

Allergy sufferers increasingly rely on OTC medicines, are satisfied
with more OTC options, and save money, but doctors still play a role

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–New research from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)
and Nielsen indicates that more Americans are suffering from seasonal
allergies and are choosing nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC),
treatments rather than prescription medications. These findings are part
of a multi-year study on patient behavior, preferences, treatment
dynamics, and costs, which are published in the new report, “Assessing
Consumer Benefits of Allergy Rx-to-OTC Switches,” available online here.

According to the research, approximately 28 percent of Americans in 2015
reported that they suffer from seasonal allergies, with the majority of
allergy sufferers (60 percent) saying they choose OTC medicines alone as
their preferred treatment method. This represents a 20 percent increase
from 2009. The study also showed 75 percent of allergy sufferers
purchased an OTC medication either on its own or in addition to a
prescription treatment in 2015, compared to just 66 percent in 2009,
suggesting that consumers have adjusted their behavior as more OTC
options have become available over the past several years.

“Less than 20 years ago nearly all allergy treatment options were
prescription, but now the script is flipped and most of the options are
OTC,” says Scott Melville, president and CEO of CHPA. “Access and
affordability has increased significantly now that more allergy
medicines have switched from prescription to OTC.”

The custom survey component of the research, conducted by Nielsen on
behalf of CHPA, focused on assessing the overall consumer benefits of
allergy Rx-to-OTC switches. The goal of the research was to identify how
the treatment dynamics of allergy sufferers have changed over the years
as more OTC options have become available, including how they have
benefitted in terms of costs and quality-of-life, and how healthcare
insurance provider costs have changed as more OTCs have entered the

“Chronic diseases like allergies can be a burden on health, finances,
and time,” says Andrew Mandzy, director of the Health & Wellness Growth
& Strategy team at Nielsen. “Now people have more options than ever for
self-care, like leveraging online sources to find health-related
information or by using OTC medicines as a first line of defense.”

Although a custom survey in the report also showed that fewer allergy
sufferers are going to healthcare providers (HCPs) for treatment, survey
respondents did say that HCPs remain an important resource in managing
their allergies. In 2015, 28 percent of allergy sufferers went to see an
HCP for treatment (compared to 31 percent in 2009), and 44 percent of
them stated that the HCP influenced their choice of OTC allergy

“It’s gratifying to know that patients still look at healthcare
providers as an important part of their allergy management,” says Dr.
Cary Sennett, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of
America (AAFA). “Even though most allergy medicines are conveniently
available over-the-counter today, doctors still play a vital role in
allergy diagnosis and management, especially for those who have a more
severe form of the disease and for those who also have allergic asthma.”

From the results of the report and the trends it indicates in consumer
behavior, it appears that with greater availability and choice of OTC
medicines, allergy sufferers are finding a meaningful degree of cost
reduction and time savings, while still achieving the critical relief
they need from their allergy symptoms.


Nielsen conducted a consumer survey of 2,000 adult allergy sufferers
about their treatment routine and their overall satisfaction with
medication options. The Nielsen Homescan Ailment Panel tool was used for
the survey to look at the preferences and purchasing behaviors of
consumers over the age of 13. Researchers also used data from IMS Health
on the analysis of patient visits to HCPs, monthly script data, and
insurance costs, as well as data from the U.S. Census and the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Center for Financing, Access and
Cost Trends (CFACT).

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the
136-year-old national trade association representing the leading
manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and
dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines
saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102
billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering self-care
by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer
healthcare products.


Consumer Healthcare Products Association
Mike Tringale, 202-429-3520