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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : October 2006
cover story AN AJP/SCHERING-PLOUGH ADVERTORIAL Lifting the allergy cloud with Schering-Plough New research has underlined the importance of pharmacists having access to a wide range of products to meet the health needs of people with allergies. Schering-Plough’s family of allergy products helps pharmacy to cover the full suite of allergy concerns T HE latest research into the incidence of allergies in Australia has found that more than half of all Australians aged between 18 and 64 years had experienced some kind of allergy in the past 12 months. That’s one of the findings of market segmentation research1 commissioned by long-time leading player in the market, Schering-Plough, and conducted by research firm Ipsos.* Schering-Plough understands that in order to effectively treat people with allergies, it’s important for pharmacists to understand the different types of allergic reactions and how people seek to resolve their symptoms. It’s also important for manufacturers of allergy products, which is why this latest research is part of an ongoing Schering-Plough program aimed at keeping the company abreast of market developments and shifts in consumer behaviour, as well as enabling it to provide its pharmacy customers with insights into the dynamics of market and consumer behaviour. The largest pharmacy-only category According to Schering-Plough Australia managing director, Terrie Curran, the strategic value of delivering allergy treatment and support services via pharmacies was underpinned by the fact that the OTC antihistamine market was the largest pharmacy-only category.2 ‘The market continues to grow by 7 per cent2 increasing incidence of allergy3 due to the and this helps to fuel the strategic importance of the category to pharmacy. ‘But while 5.7 million Australians claim to treat symptoms, there are still 1.1 million Australians aged 18 to 64 who are affected by allergies yet don’t seek or receive treatment.1 presents pharmacy with an opportunity to identify these people and help them to effectively treat their allergy symptoms,’ Ms Curran said. Key trends The Schering-Plough research also identified some key trends which may help pharmacies improve their approach to identifying and supporting people with allergies. • Among those who treat their allergies, 45 per cent classify themselves as seasonal sufferers and 74 per cent of these suffer in the spring. • Regarding severity of hayfever or allergies, 59 per cent of treaters categorised their allergies as moderate, 25 per cent as severe and 16 per cent as mild. 18 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.87 OCTOBER 2006 This Skin allergies Among those treating their allergy symptoms, 22 per cent have moderate or severe skin allergy symptoms, often occuring in association with other significant allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, blocked or runny nose, and so on. Those suffering skin allergies tended to have more frequent allergy attacks, were more likely to medicate compared to others with allergies, and suffered both more emotionally and in terms of limiting their daily activities. While there was high use of creams in this group, antihistamine tablets were the most common form of medicine used, and there was also a tendency by skin allergy sufferers to choose products which addressed the range of allergy symptoms they experienced. * The target market was those aged 18–64 years who had experienced and treated hayfever or airborne allergies in the past 12 months (n=993). A sub-segment of skin allergy sufferers and gatekeepers was also included in the sample. • In terms of the timing of their symptoms, 73 per cent claimed them to be intermittant (symptoms present less than four days per week or less than four weeks per year) while the remaining 27 per cent claimed them to be persistent (symptoms present for more than four days per week and more than four weeks per year). Market segmentation Two dominant dimensions segment the market for allergy treatments—the emotional and physical impact of allergy on people, and the drivers that impact on decisions to either treat an allergy early, or minimise or delay treatment. The research found that there was great variation in the extent to which allergies affect sufferers: from slight physical discomfort to more extreme levels that significantly impact the lives of allergy sufferers, often leading to unhappiness and depression. Early treatment was driven by symptom intensity and, for some, to stay in control of the allergy and minimise its impact, despite their symptoms perhaps being less intense. Delayed treatment, however, was driven by the inadequate solution provided by medication and, for some, concern about dosing with medications and expense. This point underlined the importance of effective questioning and counselling when assisting someone with allergy concerns.