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Loratadine OTC status prompts care plans to revising non-sedating antihistamine coverage strategies

YARDLEY, PA., Feb. 5, 2003 -- With Claritin joining the over-the-counter ranks, many health plans are in the process of revamping their prescription drug formularies.

The FDA announced OTC status approval for loratadine in November 2002. The status change had been requested by Schering-Plough in March after Wellpoint Health Networks filed a petition to switch Claritin, Allegra (fenofexadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) from prescription to OTC status.

Schering-Plough initially opposed the idea of switching Claritin to non-prescription status, but ultimately filed a supplemental new drug application to sell loratadine over-the-counter, itself.

MediMedia Information Technologies asked P&T committee members registered on PharmScope ( for their input regarding changes to their formulary due to the over-the-counter status of loratadine and its effect on the non-sedating antihistamine class as a whole.    

This brief survey addresses the status of NSAs on formulary, costs to the plan and the likelihood of implementing policies that would encourage the use of Claritin OTC.

Results from the survey include:

  • Sixty-two percent of the respondents say a drug utilization/evaluation review is initiated for the drug class when a drug goes over-the-counter.
  • 59% of the plans will be moving desloratadine to a different, and, in most cases, lower status than loratadine.
  • Sixty-two percent do not expect NSAs to maintain their status.
  • Aetna will apply pre-certification to all prescription non-sedating antihistamines as of January 1, 2003.

To learn more about this survey, visit

Source:  MediMedia  Information Technologies

Posted: February 2003