Zyrtec Goes Behind-The-Counter

Zyrtec users can now buy it without a prescription—but they’ll have to show ID because it going to be sold from behind the counter with the other meth supplies. [Associated Press]


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  1. kantwait says:


  2. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I wonder how much it will cost?

    I have to take this and Zantac everyday for my allergies, right now I pay 70$ for both.

  3. missjulied says:

    Actually, this is “Zyrtec-D”, which is Zyrtec PLUS psuedoephidrine. I haven’t heard anything about standard-issue Zyrtec (cetirizine hydrochloride only) being available without a prescription yet.

    In fact, now I’ll probably have to fight with my insurance company because they’ll claim it’s available OTC, even though I don’t want to take something with pseudoephidrine in it. *sigh*

  4. quagmire0 says:

    Does this mean it can be genericized? :D

  5. humphrmi says:

    @missjulied: Exactly. For those of us who are (well) insured, going OTC is a bad deal because now we pay retail instead of just copay. I’m in the same boat for Zyrtec for my son. I hope it’s just the -D.

  6. Bodgy says:

    Yes! I love being carded for allergy pills and cold medicines! This is a dream come true!

    In Illinois they admitted that keeping the meth ingredients behind the counter has not made a dent in the meth problems.

  7. ogman says:

    This works out great for insurance companies, who no longer have to pay for the drug. Of course, if your doctor thinks you should be taking something else, you’re out of luck. The insurance company will now force this on you. Just like Claritan, it will cost the some consumers even more now than it would have if covered by insurance.

  8. jaffa-cake says:

    My doctor told me this a couple months ago since I take Zyrtec everyday. She told me she could change my prescription to Xyzal (a new-ish drug here in the US, but it’s already been in Europe awhile) since it’s cheaper for me to get allergy medication by Px than OTC.

  9. bohemian says:

    Only the “D” version is behind the counter. Regular Zyrtec is going OTC. But the patent runs out on December 27th of this year. Nobody is speculating when a generic version can or would be available.

    If anyone remembers when Claritin went otc it was a huge mess for about 6 months to a year. Only the brand name version was available and it was expensive. Once generic versions were available and it was already OTC the price dropped considerably. The store brand Claritin/Loratidine is a fraction of the brand name.
    Allegra is already generic, if they push that one OTC it could be the one that gets cheaper faster.

    There will be people caught during the transition where your insurance won’t cover it but it costs a ton. Eventually that will resolve itself.

  10. Tonguetied says:

    This variety is for 12 and up so the zyrtec syrup my 8 year old is on should still be on my medical plan and I can just pay the co-pay instead of the over the counter price which I’m sure will be higher…

  11. Tonguetied says:

    Mmm, just read Bohemian’s comment. Maybe I’m not so lucky…

  12. I hate the behind-the-counter decongestants because I take one regularly and, thanks to some bullshit law, now have to stop in the pharmacy and get carded every 10 days. I also can not stock up on Claritin-D when it’s on sale.

    I understand this is a federal law. I will not vote for any incumbents in the next election. I still understand that this law has little chance of being repealed because it’s 1) allegedly to combat meth, 2) grossly inconveniences a minority of people, and 3) bullshit laws seldom get repealed.

  13. darkened says:

    I was planning to open my meth lab but when CVS told me i couldn’t be a pallette full of claritan I moved onto spray paint and cigarettes to kids.

  14. christoj879 says:

    I’ve been getting generic Zyrtec from an online Canadian drugstore for over a year and the quality is great. Maybe a little less effective, but it’s only about $30 for a 90-day supply. More than great deal in my book. It’s OTC in Canada so no prescription required. Regular, not D.

  15. BigNutty says:

    This “behind the counter” crap has been shown to only make chemical cookers find ways to get around the limitation limits.

    Do you really believe any addict or dealer will just toss up their arms and say “oh well, guess we can’t use or make drugs anymore”?

  16. witeowl says:

    @ogman: I disagree. When insurance companies pay for prescription medication, the money has to come from somewhere. Where? Rising premiums. Sure, in the short term this appears to cost consumers and benefit insurance companies. However, over the long term this is, most likely, a wash.

    If anyone benefits from making it OTC, it’s the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. They can sell to all the pseudo-hypochondriacs they’ve created through rampant advertising of their drug, and they don’t have to provide discounts to the insured.

  17. witeowl says:

    @BigNutty: Sure, just like gun laws have made gangsters say, “Oh, well, I guess the drive-by is called off because we can’t get any legal weapons.”

  18. ElizabethD says:

    Damn. I don’t want the “D” part… pseudoephedrine makes my heart race, and not in a good way.

    I wonder what’s up with regular Zyrtec. I pay a *co-pay* of $40 per scrip on that one. And no, Blue Cross, Claritin is NOT the same.

  19. SirKeats says:

    @witeowl: That’s ridiculous. Do you think your premiums are going to decrease as more and more drugs move OTC. NOT! Premiums are going up because of greed on the part of HMO’s and a ridiculously litigious society. Those of us who are on zyrtec are getting screwed by this move… plain and simple.

  20. witeowl says:

    @SirKeats: Nope, but I do know that premiums will rise more as people use more and more prescription drugs. [www.alliedquotes.com] Do you think that they’ll really allow prescription drug coverage to eat into profits?

    As someone who doesn’t use prescription drugs, I could be happy to no longer have to pay for the prescription drugs of other group members of my insurance plan. This move means that I’m no longer getting screwed.

    (Of course, as someone who supports a socialized health care system, I’d rather that prescription and OTC drugs both be covered through national health care. I’m just playing devil’s advocate.)

  21. Steel_Pelican says:

    I can’t believe no one’s used that old Consumerist-comment chestnut, “nanny state” yet, and this article’s been online for 4 hours!

    Come on, guys, get it together!

  22. Hambriq says:

    1. For people worried about only Zyrtec-D being available, a rep from UCB swung by my pharmacy about six weeks ago and let us know that Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D were going OTC, with Zyrtec-D coming out first, and Zyrtec was set to go OTC on December 25th.

    2. The going rate for this will be about 30 a month, I presume. I have seen patients pay up to a 50 dollar copay for Zyrtec. It could either be good or bad, depending on what your copay is.

    3. If you are one of the unlucky people whose copay is less expensive than the price of the OTC product, you could always ask your doctor to switch you to Xyzal (levocetirizine), the enantiomer of Zyrtec (cetirizine). Of course, by doing so, you’d be contributing the upward spiraling costs of health care in this country simply because you want to keep on paying that low copay of yours for a drug that costs about five times as much as the OTC alternative. But hey, you’re only paying $10 for it, that’s all that it must cost, right?

  23. scarletvirtue says:

    @christoj879: Do you get yours through [www.canadapharmacy.com] as well? Or do you go through another pharmacy?

    While this is good news, I’ll have to wait ’til generic versions of the OTC Zyrtec are available, since I’m taking 2 per day and $30 for what would be 15 days’ worth of drugs isn’t worth it.

  24. scarletvirtue says:

    @Hambriq: If I could get Zyrtec through my health insurance Rx plan, I’d be paying $50 per month – after I’d get my doctor to sign forms stating that 300 billion other drugs (slight exaggeration, but it feels that way) didn’t work.

  25. Hambriq says:


    That’s what I’ve noticed with most private insurance companies I encounter. It usually requires a prior authorization and it’s on the highest prescription tier available, which is normally $50 to $60. I was actually kind of shocked by all the people who have said they get it for cheap.

    Although it is FREE on Medicaid. See? Sometimes it pays to be poor.

  26. mconfoy says:

    @christoj879: Do you have the link?

  27. enroper says:

    I’m crossing my fingers that they make Nasonex over the counter. That stuff has been a lifesaver for me but it’s such a bitch to have to keep getting reupped on a prescription for some a benign medicine.

  28. christoj879 says:

    @SCARLETVIRTUE: yes, I do get them from http://www.canadapharmacy.com – I bought shipping for a year for about $20 and it quickly paid for itself.

    @MCONFOY: yes, check the link above this for Canada Pharmacy. They say they’re in Canada, but this drug actually arrives from the UK, where I believe it’s made in India by Dr. Reddy’s (might be a new maker, it changes). As I’ve said, I’ve noticed it’s sometimes not as effective (I could be growing a tolerace, as it worked very well when I started, and I’ve been using it for a few years now), but taking another usually solves any problems. My wallet is happy and my girlfriend is happy that I can be around her cats. Win win.

    Btw, I was reading some interesting stuff on this and side effects and overdosing, I think I read something to the effect of a small child took hundreds and hundreds of milligrams and only got tired from it. Weird.

  29. christoj879 says:

    Thought it would make it a link. Sorry.

    [www.canadapharmacy.com] – there you go.

  30. dazzlezak says:

    I take Zantac Everyday. I buy it at Costco. They have rantidine tablets “Acid Reducer” 3 bottles of 80 pills each, 75mg, for approx $5.99.

    $3.00 a month! Pays for my membership by itself.@jrdnjstn78:

  31. jrdnjstn78 says:


    Thank-you. The Zantac I take is the 150mg one. I know it’s sold otc but I haven’t been taking like I should, I have no heartburn and it’s prescribed for my allergies (which I had no idea it could be used for that).

    the Zrytec is what is sending me to the poor house and I have insurance.

  32. mconfoy says:

    @dazzlezak: Or order the Kirkland brand on ebay even cheaper like I do.

    @jrdnjstn78: Type 2 antihistamine baby. Its amazing how many people in the medical field don’t know that though this is something known for at least 20 years. It is good with preventing hives. There are others that work too, but Zantac seems to be the best.

  33. the_wiggle says:

    @jaffa-cake: got the same advice for our family’s scripts. waiting to see what the plain zyrtec cost will be 1st tho’ as “new” drug co pay is $40 & at 4 fills in the household that adds up way too fast & both work just about the same.

    @Bodgy: at least they admitted it. yet to do so here. fools. just one more salami slice off the remaining shreds of USA’s innocent til proven guilty concept.