Zyrtec update

Here’s an interesting twist on my Sunday column. As you’ll recall, I mentioned that my current group insurance has in recent years refused to cover Zyrtec, which I found to be effective in treating my allergies. So I got this message from Zyrtec’s PR firm:


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
January 2008.

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
other way.



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
    Here’s an
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
    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.
I’ll let you know what he says back. I’ve also made a note to myself to find out at first opportunity whether I’m right about the insurance not helping if it goes OTC, but not generic. Finally, I’ve got a call in to the FDA to ask when Zyrtec will go generic. I realize those of you who don’t need Zyrtec might not care about this in the narrowest sense, but I believe this situation is what English majors (or sociologists or economists or somebody) call a microcosm. Anyway, I’ll be back to you as the plot sickens…

6 thoughts on “Zyrtec update

  1. Doh

    I think I saw somewhere else that zyrtec’s patent expires around the end of next year, so it could go generic fairly soon.
    What a screwed up system we have when it’s bad news for people that the product is available OTC and cheaper.

  2. Jas

    Get it on e-Bay or from Canada, where generic Zyrtec is already on the market. 30c/pill for the real thing, less than a quarter for generic.

  3. Zyrtec Prescrition Information

    My name is Susan Carey and i would like to show you my personal experience with Zyrtec.
    I am 40 years old. Have been on Zyrtec for 5 days now. The five times I took this medicine i felt extreme anxiety, depressed, and wild moodiness. I don’t commonly feel any of these symptoms. It was really awful. It wasn’t until I looked online and saw other people saying the same sort of things that I concluded it was this medicine.
    I have experienced some of these side effects –
    anxiety, depression, and mood swings
    I hope this information will be useful to others,
    Susan Carey

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