Last month, the patent for Claritin, Schering-Plough's blockbuster nonsedating antihistamine, ran out. This opened the door to competition not only from generics, but also from Schering's own over-the-counter version of loratadine.
Yet, for some time, Schering has been working to convert physicians and their patients to Clarinex. Claritin is approved only for seasonal outdoor allergies, while Clarinex is indicated for indoor and outdoor maladies. The medications are almost identical, with similar but minor side effects.
Using July 2001 (before the Clarinex launch) as a baseline, approximately 95 percent of HMO patients had reimbursed access* to Claritin. Examining July 2002 (six months after the Clarinex launch), 92 percent of HMO patients had reimbursed access to Claritin, compared to Clarinex patients at 88 percent. And last month, Claritin remained at 92 percent and Clarinex at 89 percent. While the data show that MCO formulary acceptance of Clarinex is approaching 90 percent, there has not been a corresponding decline in Claritin acceptance to this point.
When looking at just the formulary statuses of approved, tier 1, and tier 2, the data show a slight decline in Claritin acceptance from 78.3 percent in July 2001 to 73.2 percent in July 2002 and 71.7 percent in December 2002.
*Reimbursed access is defined as the following formulary positions: approved, tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, nonformulary but covered or reimbursed, and approved after prior authorization.