November 09, 2015
2 min read

Patients with SAR prefer prescription medicine, but use OTC more often

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SAN ANTONIO — Patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis frequently use over-the-counter medication to treat their symptoms and rarely receive treatment from an allergist, according to data presented at the 2015 American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.

Although the patients used OTC medication more often, the study results indicated patients greatly preferred prescription medicine.

“Even though the majority of adults and children we surveyed said they took OTC oral medications for allergies, only one third were very or extremely satisfied with the treatment,” Eli O. Meltzer, MD, FACAAI, a clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Diego, said in a press release. “In contrast, we found that about 50% of adults and children surveyed were very or extremely satisfied with prescription treatment, but the majority of those sufferers aren't necessarily obtaining prescriptions. Health plans tend to encourage patients to seek OTC medications first, which can delay allergist involvement.”

Meltzer and colleagues conducted a week-long national survey in March 2015 of adults aged 18 years and older (n = 501) and parents of children aged between 12 to 17 years (n = 501) with seasonal allergic rhinitis to determine patient awareness and preference about seasonal allergic rhinitis treatment.

Participants responded to 34 questions in the 16-minute survey regarding diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, preferences and satisfaction.

In the spring, participants reported seasonal allergic rhinitis as mostly moderate (45%) to severe (38%). Participants also reported moderate (60%) to severe (21%) symptoms in the fall.

Adults reported primarily receiving allergy care from a PCP (58%) or allergist (14%).

Children had a higher likelihood of receiving treatment from an allergist (24%), however parents reported PCP (35%) or pediatrician (30%) as the primary means for allergy treatment.

Participants reported they usually manage symptoms with OTC medications — adults (62%) more than children (51%).

Children had a higher tendency to use prescription oral medications (42%) than adults (29%).

Thirty-four percent of participants reported they were very or extremely satisfied with OTC therapy. However, 48% of participants reported extreme satisfaction with prescription treatment and 57% of parents of children reported more satisfaction.

“The combination of less frequent care by allergists and more frequent use of OTC medications has not translated into patient satisfaction,” Bryan Martin, DO, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology president-elect, said in the release. “In general, patients who see an allergist and who are on prescription medication are more satisfied with their allergy treatment.” – by Ryan McDonald


Meltzer E, et al. Abstract 45. Presented at: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting; Nov. 5-9; San Antonio.

Disclosure: was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of reporting.