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ACAAI expresses reservations on over-the-counter loratadine

ARLINGTON, ILL., November. 27, 2002 -- Following announcement of FDA approval for over-the-counter (OTC) marketing of loratadine (Claritin), the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) has issued a statement expressing its perspective on this development:

"The OTC availability of loratadine may be appropriate for some patients, but it is important to understand the implications this may have on many others who are more likely to self-diagnose and self-medicate. As a consequence of self-treatment they may seek medical advice and care much later when their disease is more advanced and when they are at greater risk of co-morbidities such as asthma and sinusitis.

"Diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases is often a complex matter requiring expert professional evaluation and advice. Identification of symptom triggers, education about the nature of the disease, instructions to avoid or reduce allergen exposure, additional management of the co-morbidities, and appropriate monitoring of a patient's progress are largely unavailable outside the care of an experienced clinician. A doctor and patient together make the best decisions about health care treatment and disease management.

"We also are concerned if health plans deny or discourage patients' access to safe and effective allergy medications. Some managed care organizations already have announced or proposed to end reimbursements for certain prescription allergy medications or substantially increase co-pays as soon as loratadine becomes available without a prescription. Cost issues may cause some patients, especially lower-income patients, to turn to older medications that have side effects such as drowsiness, which can contribute to automobile and other accidents and impair performance on the job or in school.

"We firmly believe that the treatment options available to all patients with allergic and immunologic diseases should reflect accepted standards of medical care, including the use of up-to-date medications. Insurance policies and health plans that limit a patients' access to appropriate medicines impede a physician's ability to prescribe the most appropriate treatment and provide the best medical care."

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) is an organization of allergists, immunologists and related health care professionals dedicated to quality patient care through research, advocacy and professional and public education. Based on training and experience, the members of this organization, through their professional societies, are uniquely qualified to identify and comment on issues which may impact on the availability of quality medical care for those who suffer from allergic diseases.

The Position Statement, "Insurance Coverage for H1-Antihistamines: Implications for Quality Healthcare and Public Safety" issued November 18, 2002, by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (JCAAI), is available at

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Posted: November 2002