Be the go-to expert for OTC allergy meds

Be the go-to expert for OTC allergy meds

Guide patients to better allergy treatments  

In brief:

  • More than 50 million Americans — and many of your customers — suffer from allergies
  • Patients often select the wrong OTC products for allergies
  • Be the go-to expert in your community for OTC allergy products
  • Before allergy season starts, begin marketing prevention and treatment options
  • Constantly counsel patients on the best OTC allergy solutions

Allergies are nothing to sneeze at

Spring is an important time for your pharmacy to focus on allergies because seasonal allergies are top of mind for many patients.

As you know, allergies are a big deal. More than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year.1 And, while millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies, for many patients, allergies are an ongoing issue. In fact, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States.2

Yet as common as allergies are, many patients don’t medicate properly. Consider allergic rhinitis:

Allergic Rhinitis Statistics

The opportunity for independent pharmacies

Become the go-to resource for patients in your community seeking relief from allergies.

  • Know the options for patients
  • Teach prevention
  • Take time to counsel patients
  • Use signs and maximize endcaps to point patients to the proper products
  • Constantly educate patients through marketing and community outreach
  • Market your allergy products and expertise in-store, on your website and via social media

Your patients already see you as an expert for prescription medications. Focusing on allergies provides a way to broaden your expertise.

Know the options

In general, patients with mild seasonal allergies, primarily suffering with itching and sneezing, may benefit most from an oral antihistamine. Those who don’t respond to one brand may respond to another, so ask how well treatments are working and be ready to suggest other options.

Patients with more severe allergies, primarily congestion, may see the best relief from intranasal corticosteroids.3

But think beyond those broad treatment categories. For example, patients with itchy, watery eyes may benefit from antihistamine eye drops, and an intranasal antihistamine may offer relief 10 times faster than an oral antihistamine.

It’s also important to talk with patients about their overall health, since conditions ranging from glaucoma to coronary artery disease can affect treatment recommendations.

The market is growing with new OTC and prescription products, so stay up to date. For example, the FDA has approved sublingual therapies for grass, dust mite and ragweed allergies.4

Pharmacies can leverage their endcaps, the second most-shopped areas in a store, with the proper OTC allergy products. You can find the seasonal planograms on McKesson Connect™.

Teach prevention

Too often patients wait until they experience symptoms to seek treatment. Market OTC allergy relief products early — before allergy season — and explain the benefits to patients of being proactive. For example, those using intranasal cromolyn sodium will want to start treatment a week or two before allergy season hits.

And OTC oral antihistamines can be more effective with regular use, rather than patients’ taking them intermittently, after symptoms become severe.

Add options for prevention and relief

Think beyond one solution. Be ready to talk about:

  • Combination therapies for those not finding relief with one product.
  • Easing side effects. For example, nasal saline administered five minutes after an intranasal corticosteroid may reduce side effects.
  • Alternate treatments. Patients with runny noses may benefit from neti pots or rinse bottles. Remind them of the need to prepare solutions safely, and consider stocking distilled water beside the neti pots.
  • Targeted relief, such as eye wash kits or eye lubricants.

Prevention strategies. For example, dust masks, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats can reduce exposure to allergens. Add those products and create a display explaining the benefits. Get patients thinking about allergy relief before the sneezing starts.

Once allergy season actually begins, continually remind patients how your pharmacy can help. For example, when the local pollen counts are high, share that information and talk about solutions on social media. This will help strengthen your relationships with your patients and improve their overall health.

Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for, the content provided herein.
1 Allergy Statistics and Facts, WebMD. LINK
2 “Allergy Facts and Figures,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. LINK
3 “Updates in the Management of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis,” G. Blair Sarbacker, U.S. Pharmacist, July 14, 2016. LINK
4 “SLIT Treatment (Allergy Tablets) for Allergic Rhinitis Nothing to Sneeze About,” American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. LINK