Drug companies, marketing & the patient

so here's what just happened: my staff hands me a chart & tells me the patient has been using "Zyrtec eyedrops".

"that can't be", I say, "because Zyrtec is a PILL. You must mean some other eye drop."

"No, the bottle said 'Zyrtec'", my assistant says.

"No, it didn't.", I laughingly replied. After all there are lots of eye drops that start with a "Z": Zylet, Zaditor, Zymar, etc.

Sure enough I go in the exam room & the patient is holding a bottle of eye drops that clearly says "Zyrtec".

I keep up with this stuff. I know what "new" eye drops are coming on the market months, sometimes even years before they're available. There is not a "new" anti-allergy eye drop formula in the works by any manufacturer. I know there isn't b/c I routinely research this stuff. "Zyrtec" (the pill) is cetirizone hydrochloride, of which there is not currently, nor is there going to be, an ophthalmic formulation any time soon.

Sure enough I read the label: "Zyrtec" eye drops are ketoifen fumarate...a drug thats been around in eye drop form since at least 1999, and available OTC since around Jan of 2007. Marketed by Bausch & Lomb as "Alaway" & by Novartis as "Zaditor".

Look I have no problem admitting when I am "wrong", but I'm not wrong. My assistant wasn't "wrong" either. But I contend that there is STILL not a true "Zyrtec Eye Drop".

Look at this chart:


of the EIGHT "Zyrtec" products, SEVEN of them are cetirizone hydrochloride. ONE of them (guess which one) is not. The "Zyrtec" eye drop drug is ketoifen fumarate.

Its not the same. That's at best misleading marketing. I don't see how one can justify using a TOTALLY DIFFERENT DRUG and calling it the same "brand name" as another drug.

So, while I did tell my assistant that she was right, the bottle did say "Zyrtec", I contend that I am also not wrong: there is no "Zyrtec" eye drops (i.e. no cetirizone hydrochloride eye drops, as "Zyrtec" is the brand name of the drug cetirizone hydrochloride). There are only ketoifen fumarate eye drops (misleadingly?) labeled with the same "brand name" as cetirizone hydrochloride pills. They are most certainly & unmistakably NOT the same drug...but yet they are somehow allowed to have the same "brand name". Seems..errrrrr... fishy to me to say the least.


  1. now Claritin has done the same thing: repackaged ketoifen fumarate and branded it as "Claritin" eye drops, which like the Zyrtec is misleading IMO b/c "Claritin" eyedrops are not loratadine like Claritin pills are...


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