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Thoughts about Getting Claritin Over-the-Counter

separator If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re probably glad the Food and Drug Administration has approved Claritin for over-the-counter (OTC) use. Claritin, which is made by Schering-Plough, first came on the market in 1993. One reason Claritin became so popular is that is doesn’t make you drowsy. It’s a safer alternative to some of the other antihistamines you can get over the counter.

Claritin is available for adults and for children aged 2 and older. There are five formulas:

  • Once-daily tablets
  • Once-daily tablets that dissolve in your mouth
  • Claritin-D, a once-daily tablet that contains a decongestant
  • Claritin-D 12-hour, a twice-daily decongestant
  • A syrup for children

Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis include

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, throat, eyes and ears

FDA criteria for prescription to OTC
In order for the FDA to approve a prescription medicine for over-the-counter use, he drug must meet the following criteria:

  • The drug is for a condition that people can treat and manage themselves.
  • It’s safe to use the drug without being “supervised” by a prescriber.
  • The drug’s label gives clear instructions about use and side effects.

How does this affect your wallet?
If you don’t have health insurance or prescription benefits, Claritin will be less expensive for you now. When Claritin was a prescription-only drug, the average cost for a month’s supply was about $60 to $80. Now, it will cost between $30 and $40.

But if you were getting Claritin with a prescription before, and you had a low co-pay, you’re going to have to pay the full price now. And if you’re on Medicaid, you’ll feel the pinch even more, because many people on Medicaid typically pay about $1 to $5 for a prescription, and now they’ll have to pay full price.

Keep in mind…
There are certain changes you can make that might allow you to avoid taking allergy medication at all. Some people find that acupuncture relieves allergy symptoms. Others say that eating a healthy diet and taking steps to relieve stress can make allergy symptoms more manageable.

If you do decide to use Claritin, be sure to read the label carefully. Make sure you don’t get Claritin-D, for example, if you’re not congested.

Even though you don’t need a prescription for Claritin anymore, it’s still a good idea to talk with your doctor about taking it, especially if you’ve never had seasonal allergies before. 

If your symptoms are particularly severe, or if they don’t improve after taking Claritin, be sure to see your doctor. It may be that you don’t have allergies at all, or it could be that your symptoms are due to allergies that are not seasonal. Your doctor can help you figure out what’s going on and how best to treat it.

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Food and Drug Administration
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