Flonase (fluticasone) is one of the most popular prescription allergy medications on the market today. A steroid nasal spray, Flonase prevents the release of inflammatory substances in the body that cause allergic reactions. It is used to treat varied symptoms including nasal congestion, runny noses, and sneezing, and can be used in adults or children over 2 years of age for both seasonal and year-round allergies.

As with many allergy medicines, proponents of Flonase have long wished that they could obtain the spray over the counter, without a prescription from a doctor. For these folks, a dream has come true: the FDA has now approved Flonase for purchase over the counter (OTC).

Full Strength Treatment

Flonase has been available as a prescription medicine since 1994, and now joins Nascort 24HR as the second nasal spray for relief of hay fever symptoms to be approved for purchase without a prescription in the past year.

For those who suffer from frequent or occasional stuffy noses, itchy and runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes, this approval is big news and an exciting development. Flonase has an advantage over Nascort24HR, according to its parent company GlaxoSmithKline, which reports that Flonase is the only over the counter spray that is indicated for all nasal and eye-related allergy symptoms. Flonase will be available at full prescription strength.

Allergy Problems

Nasal allergies afflict roughly 50 million people in the United States alone, and due to allergies, people can be left feeling out of breath, tired, and irritable. These symptoms can lead to other health problems related to the symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Issues with attention and learning
  • Problems with performance at work and school.

The High Cost of Symptoms

As of 2010, it was estimated that Americans suffering with allergies spent over $17 billion on healthcare costs related to their allergies, and cost more than $6 million in productivity costs related to lost work and school days.

Welcome Relief

While 70% of those who suffer with allergies use an over the counter or prescription treatments, 50% of those using treatments aren’t satisfied with how effective their treatments are. For these people, the option to have such a popular and widely-prescribed solution to allergy symptoms at full prescription strength, available over the counter, is sure to present a welcome relief.

The company feels that this approval, which will make Flonase available to customers in a far more convenient way than as in the past, will create a major improvement in the statistics of lost time, productivity and healthcare costs, and hails the decision as a milestone in providing access to vital medication for those who need it.

Certainly, for those afflicted with severe or even mild allergies, the ability to obtain one of the most popular and effective treatments for their symptoms will be great news, and will likely be hailed as a great decision by the Food and Drug Administration. Look for the spray to be available across the nation in early 2014.

By Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT