Seasonal patterns of oral antihistamine and intranasal corticosteroid purchases from Australian community pharmacies: a retrospective observational study

Pragmat Obs Res. 2017 Aug 30;8:157-165. doi: 10.2147/POR.S134266. eCollection 2017.


Purpose: To explore patterns in the purchase of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) oral antihistamines (OAHs) and intranasal corticosteroids (INCSs) by patients, from pharmacies in different geographical regions of Australia.

Patients and methods: Retrospective observational study using a database containing anonymous pharmacy transaction data from 20.0% of the pharmacies in Australia that link doctor prescriptions and OTC information. Pharmacy purchases of at least one prescription or OTC rhinitis treatment during 2013 and 2014 were assessed.

Results: In total, 4,247,193 prescription and OTC rhinitis treatments were purchased from 909 pharmacies over 12 months. Of treatments purchased, 75.9% were OAHs and 16.6% were INCSs. OTC purchases of both treatments exceeded purchases through prescription. OTC OAHs purchasing patterns were seasonal and almost identical in the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and New South Wales, and similar seasonal patterns for OTC INCSs were noted in most regions except for South Australia and Tasmania. Prescription purchasing patterns of both OAHs and INCSs remained unchanged throughout the year in most regions.

Conclusion: This large-scale retrospective observational study identified seasonal purchasing patterns of OTC and prescription OAHs and INCSs in a real-world setting. It highlighted that seasonality only affects OTC purchasing patterns of OAHs and INCSs across Australia and that practitioner prescribing remains unchanged, suggesting that it is only for persistent disease.

Keywords: allergic rhinitis; medication; over-the-counter; prescription; therapy; treatment.