My name is Eric Tatro, and I’m with
Cohn & Wolfe public relations. Today I read your editorial about health
insurance that was posted on your blog, and noticed that you had some trouble
getting your insurance company to pay for prescription Zyrtec.
We are working with McNeil Consumer
Healthcare, who recently announced that the FDA approved Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D 12
Hour (which combines Zyrtec with a decongestant) for use without a prescription.
I thought you and your readers might find this interesting, since allergy
sufferers will soon be able to purchase Zyrtec anywhere over-the-counter
prescriptions are sold without first having to visit an allergist or health care
professional. Also, for many allergy sufferers, Zyrtec will cost up to one-third
less than prescription Zyrtec. Both medications will be available nationwide in
If you would like more information,
you can find a full press kit located at http://www.ZyrtecPressKit.com. The FDA
also issued a press release on the approval, which can be found at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01750.html.
Of course, please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any
I immediately wrote back to Eric as follows:
Actually, I heard that last week, but it didn’t affect my column, since it
didn’t affect the fact that up to now, my insurance has refused to pay for
Zyrtec, and HAS paid for allergy shots, which was the point I was
irony for you, though: I had already learned that my NEW insurance (that for
which I’ll be paying $274.42 every two weeks) WILL pay for a Zyrtec
prescription. Now that it’s going over-the-counter, they might NOT cover the
prescription — I’ll have to check, but that’s my strong
suspicion.So if Zyrtec
is available to me only over the counter, and the price is only 30 percent less
than the amount that was so high my current insurance refused to pay (which had
to be really high, when you consider that they DID cover something that had a
co-pay — which would be no more than 50 percent of the total — of $81.95),
then I still won’t be able to afford it. With my high premiums, I will be very
much boxed into whatever my insurance will cover.The only
thing that might help me would be if a generic version came available. But from
what you’re telling me, this is one of those situations where the drug goes OTC,
but doesn’t go generic — at least, not yet. Am I right about that? I hope not,
but the fact that the company considers it cost-effective to hire a PR firm to
promote the brand seems to indicate that I’m right.
Do you have
any idea of when the drug might be available in generic form? It would be very
helpful to know that.