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Improve your love life with Claritin!

Submitted by on Tuesday, 14 April 2009 3 Comments

allergiesThe latest study from the files of “Why Can’t I Find Work Like This”:  Hayfever puts stress on relationships, for reasons ranging from keeping partners awake with snoring, difficulty kissing, lower sex drive and not being able to wear make-up.

Not frightened yet? There’s more!

Last summer’s survey of 787 Britons “suggests” that up to 2 million people with hayfever feel less affectionate and up to 600,000 people have argued due to hayfever.

Oh. My. God. Millions grumpy in England due to seasonal allergies. Maybe that explains the uproar after Michelle Obama cozied up to the queen.

“Even potential new relationships are at risk, with 6 percent having canceled a date or prior arrangement because of their symptoms and 75 percent feeling self conscious about their appearance,” a news release from Schering-Plough says.

They actually paid someone to do this study? Granted, anecdotal evidence isn’t going to “suggest” a number as high as 2 million, but beyond that most of the “findings” seem fairly obvious.

And yes, the sponsor was that Schering-Plough, maker of the allergy medicine Claritin.

Judging from the “new” findings, Schering-Plough must not be having much luck with its “Zyrtec makes you sleepy” campaign, though there still are a few swipes at drowsiness-inducing antihistamines in the press release.

So what else is a big company to do when faced with falling market share after a competitor goes over-the-counter? Default to the oldest advertising maxim in the book: Sex sales.

Take Claritin and you’ll feel frisky in no time. Maybe Paris Hilton would be willing to frolic in a flower-filled meadow in a reprisal of her Carl’s Jr. ad.

Claritin: For a beautiful you without the pain of Botox.

Claritin: Because he’s just not that into post-nasal drip.

I can only imagine the vocalization that would replace “ahhh, Claritin” in the new campaign.

And I can only imagine how truly desperate a company would have to be to try to sell antihistamine as an aphrodisiac.

Schering-Plough had been in the weeds – hopefully not ragweed, because we all know how unattractive that can leave you feeling – with Claritin for the better part of the decade, ever since it was forced in 2002 to go over-the-counter.

The company made a deal – don’t they always? – that allowed it to keep generics at bay for three more years if it agreed to over-the-counter. The big winners, though, were the health maintenance organizations pushing the Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter sales of Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra.

Schering-Plough’s move saved WellPoint alone $90 million because it was able to shift costs to consumers and away from its coverage.

Guess which company was pushing the Foot Dragging Administration the hardest to make the Big Three go over-the-counter. And how many other insurance companies fell in line and refused to cover prescription antihistamines because over-the-counter solutions were available?

It’s the same old story in America’s health care system. Companies cut deals and consumers lose. The only twist this time is the stealth marketing in the form of a press release just a step shy of selling snake oil.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Reno Martin said:

    Hmmmm. Better sex drive, eh? One can never have too much . . . switching from Zyrtec to Claritin this p.m. : ) Seriously, the big pharms and the gov control way too much of our life through their self-serving politics. Thanks for the expose’

  • Vanilla Cokehead said:

    cute. :) reminds me of the gem of a pitch in the movie, “Crazy People” from 1990:

    “Metamucil. It helps you go to the toilet. If you don’t use it, you’ll get cancer and die.”

    And didn’t Listerine basically create the term “halitosis” to market its product?

  • Debra said:

    As cynical as I am, even I was a little surprised when I started looking into this one, Reno. I thought I was just writing a funny little “look at this latest stupid study” post. Instead, it turned into a “how stupid do they think we are?” piece.

    And, Brian, Schering-Plough also makes several, um, Metamucil-type aids. It was all I could do to keep from mentioning that maybe company officials must be full enough of it to need their own products if they think we’re believing this study.

    Oops. Looks like I mentioned it anyway.