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Only about 30 to 40 percent of his patients, he said, found the drug helpful.
And, he added, that estimate was ''generous.'' I was surprised, perhaps naïvely, by this remark.
The high domestic price is paired with an enormous potential market: an estimated 35 million Americans suffer seasonal allergies, and many of us will be feeling that first tickle of dread later this month, when spring tree pollen begins to barge into our air passages like molecular roustabouts. The little white pill was easy to swallow and had to be taken only once a day. It didn't relieve my runny nose and red-rimmed, gunked-up eyes.
When I told my allergist, he didn't seem particularly surprised.
In June 1980, when Schering filed a patent for the group of chemical compounds that included the drug that would eventually be known as Claritin, the world of drug development was quite different.The Claritin story is an unauthorized biography, in the sense that Schering-Plough declined to grant any interviews and responded only to written questions.It is above all a case study of how a drug company creates a blockbuster.All the antihistamine drugs, new and old, are plagued by high placebo effects. A.'s Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee met at the agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., to consider Schering's application for loratadine.
'' It's a question of how bad a placebo effect you have,'' says Dr. Creticos, head of the allergy and clinical immunology division at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. (This panel of outside experts doesn't formally approve new drugs, but makes influential recommendations to the agency.)Establishing a drug's safety and efficacy is not a pretty business.At a time before people routinely gobbled down a half dozen medicines a day, those pills held a kind of mythic power for me, not only because they could make the misery of allergies disappear but also because they were prescription drugs -- inherently more powerful, more inaccessible, more special. Even as the high tide in my nose and throat subsided, I felt mentally waterlogged.