12/13/02 - Claritin Over the Counter

If you take Claritin to ease your allergies, you may be breathing a sigh of relief. We told you Wednesday how the popular allergy drug is now sold over the counter, but for some it may actually mean higher prices!
Those who don't use insurance co pay to buy their medicine will actually save money over the prescription price, but if your insurance used to help you pay for Claritin it likely won't anymore.
At first it may seem more convenient. You can pick up Claritin, a very popular allergy drug, at your local grocery store or pharmacy, but in the long run it could hurt. Just ask Connie Sanders. She's used Claritin for seven years. Now, she'll have to pay at least ten dollars more a month to keep her allergies at bay.
"I have insurance that has a co-pay and it will be more than my co-pay would be," Sanders says. "It's actually the only thing I can take that won't me sleepy, and keep my nose and allergies clear." And she isn't alone. There are millions of other people in the same situation.
Dr. Anthony Keele says,"Because it is over the counter none of the prescription plans will cover it. The option will be pay higher over the counter or get something else. I think most patients will switch to the other."
At one grocery store in Cape Girardeau, five Claritin tablets cost $5.99, the cost may be higher or lower depending on where you go.
When you go to the store to buy your Claritin you'll find a few different types to choose from. There's one for just allergies, one for allergies and congestion and a non drowsy form, if that's the route you want to choose. There's even a brochure to help you out if you don't know which one to buy.

But if you've been taking Claritin, you may not have to make that decision. Dr. Keele says, "The makers of Claritin, of course, do have a prescription drug Clarinex they introduced that six months ago. So a lot of patients who've been on Claritin will probably switch to Clarinex." It's an option Sanders isn't ruling out, as long as it's covered by insurance.

Makers of Claritin wanted it over the counter to compete with other companies. Not all pharmacies have the over the counter supply of Claritin yet, but they're expected to get it soon.