I stopped off at a local drugstore today to pick up a supply of loratidine (the generic name of Claritin) for Shannon and myself, the allergy duo, and the labels on the shelves reminded me of the power of marketing and brand recognition. All the products had a label below them, on the front edge of the shelf, that had both the price of the product and the unit price; in the case of loratadine, the unit price was the price per 100 pills. And looking at all the different options, between the number of loratadine pills in a bottle (five, 10, 20, etc.) and the various brands (Claritin and Alavert being the two most well-known names, Nuprin and Dimetapp getting in on the mix with their own offering, and the ever-present store brand), the price per 100 pills ranged from $25 (the store brand, 120 tablets for $29.99) to $119.80 (Claritin brand, five tablets for $5.99). Even just looking at what I would pay for a bottle of 30 pills, the unit price ranged from $47 to $77 — making it nearly two-thirds more expensive to buy the brand-name than it is to buy the store-brand. In an age when a ten-percent gas price rise provokes fear that the end is nigh, people seem perfectly willing to spend 60 to a couple hundred percent more for the exact same product sold under a different name. That, to me, is interesting.


Have you checked the price on Costco’s AllerClear brand of loratidine? It’s 180 pills for something like 8 dollars. I don’t understand why people buy the Claritin brand name.

• Posted by: ha3rvey on Nov 17, 2005, 9:53 PM

I wonder how many people even look at the unit price? I always try to, but my local Krogers grocery store has started making it pretty difficult: One brand will be priced ‘per ounce,’ another will be priced ‘per quart,’ and another ‘per item.’ There’s no way to compare those without a calculator.

• Posted by: Owen on Nov 18, 2005, 8:29 AM

This irked me when Claritin went OTC. The price to me, the consumer, skyrocketed over what I would pay if it remained a prescribed drug. So it’s not just generic vs. name brand, but OTC vs prescription. My doctor switched me to a comparable prescribed med.

Lobbyists for Schering-Plough worked overtime to get the FDA to agree to let it go OTC (one of those lobbyists unsuccessfully ran for Congress in my district).

• Posted by: Jeff on Nov 18, 2005, 11:21 AM
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