New Generic Allergy Medicines

Kathleen MacNaughton Health Pro December 10, 2010
  • The good news about treating allergies is that there are lots of options. The bad news is that sometimes it takes quite a bit of trial and error with a bunch of different medicines before you find what works best for your particular allergies.

     

    You can read an article I wrote about how to choose the right allergy medicine for you, and I also did an update with a rundown of all the options available these days. But another factor that influences what allergy medicine you use may be cost. I know cost has a big impact for me, as does availability over the counter (OTC).

     

    You see, like millions of other people in the United States, I don't have health insurance. I'm self-employed, and I do all right financially, but I'm far from wealthy and to buy health insurance has always been out of my range over the last decade.

     

    Health care reform may change that, but for now, I'm still likely to choose the cheapest options when it comes to medicine for my allergies and asthma.

     

    So, I was happy to read recently that some new options in generic and over the counter oral allergy medicines are becoming available.

     

    For many years, the "big 3" of second-generation oral antihistamines were:

    • Claritin
    • Zyrtec
    • Allegra

    Quite a few years ago, first Claritin and then more recently, Zyrtec were approved for both generic (cheaper) versions and also went over the counter, meaning you could get them without a prescription. As much as I prefer Allegra for treating my nasal allergies, I switched to the generic form of Zyrtec, because I could get it cheaper and without paying to see a doctor.

     

    After Claritin went generic and OTC, its manufacturers came up with an alternate prescription level antihistamine that was very similar, called Clarinex. And a few years ago, a fifth oral antihistamine called Xyzal, which is very similar to Zyrtec, was approved for use in the U.S. as well.

     

    Both Clarinex and Xyzal have been approved to go generic recently. That means they'll be more affordable in the future, which will make quality allergy medicine more accessible to the public.

     

    And here is the news that makes me ecstatic: Allegra, which is already available in generic form, has been approved to go over the counter this coming spring (2011). Since I don't want to have to pay for a doctors office visit just to get an Allegra prescription, this means I'll soon be able to obtain (and afford) the medicine that works best for controlling my nasal allergy symptoms!

     

    How about you? Is this good news for you?