Healthcare: At a Glance - Hayfever remedy PR campaigns

Anyone got a handkerchief?

Bless you. Hayfever season is upon us, which means it's time for some pharma PROs to get out their hankies and get busy. A third of the population suffers from hayfever (also called allergic rhinitis), including 25 per cent of people between the ages of 11 and 21, according to Allergy UK.

It was found by research group Mintel two years ago to be the largest pharma category in the UK 'minor ailments' market.

What are some of the main products?

Antihistamines, usually in tablet form, are the basic treatment for hayfever but UK remedies also cover nasal sprays, eye-drops and syrups, many of which are available OTC. Most major manufacturers have some sort of hayfever line, for example GlaxoSmithKline's Beconase and Novartis Consumer Health's Otrivine spray and drops.

Any noteworthy campaigns coming up?

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare is pushing its Benadryl Allergy Relief line, which recently switched to GSL and contains capsules, lotion and syrup.

PR activity from Munro & Forster Communications is targeting consumers and the trade to support a £3.5m national advertising campaign which is centring on the fact that the product takes 15 minutes to work. This week it launched the campaign in free London paper Metro and is providing pollen updates via its allergyadvice.co.uk website.

What about other pharma firms?

Schering-Plough, which handles PR for its Claritin brand in-house, says it is concentrating on marketing the product range this year but will have some activity with trade press and in-store events.

So this time of year is the obvious time for PR campaigns to manifest themselves?

Although some unfortunates suffer from it all year round (which is often due to an allergy to dust mites or fungus), hayfever is an allergy to pollens, which are the male reproductive parts of plants, from grasses and trees. This means that spring and summer are likely to see the most problems for the majority of people, with the tell-tale signs of misery including nasal irritation, congestion, sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. Those who want to know more about their condition can contact charity Allergy UK.

Further information www.allergyuk.org.

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