Save on best drugs for fall allergies

Switching to an over-the-counter generic will cut your costs

Published: September 2013

People think of spring as allergy season, but fall has its own set of allergens, including ragweed pollen. Most allergy sufferers seek relief by taking an antihistamine, which blocks the chemical that causes troublesome symptoms.

If you take a brand-name or prescription antihistamine, you can save hundreds of dollars a year by switching to an over-the-counter generic. Based on dosing convenience, cost, effectiveness, and safety, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs recommends tablet and liquid forms of generic loratadine and the dissolving tablet version sold as Alavert, and cetirizine tablets (Zyrtec and generic). Consumer Reports’ secret shoppers found that Walmart and Target offer the best nonprescription prices on those drugs, while CVS is usually the most expensive.

Need information about your drugs? Check out Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs to learn more.

Our analysis found that newer antihistamines are equally effective, but people respond differently to them. So if the top picks don’t work for you or cause side effects, try others, such as fexofenadine (Allegra and generic), which is also a good option for hay fever and seasonal allergies.

If you take allergy drugs often, see a doctor to make sure that it’s not a more serious condition. A cold, sinus infection, bronchitis, or chronic cough can mimic allergy symptoms.

Editor's Note:

These materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).

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