What Are the Pharmacist-Preferred Treatments for Coughs and Colds?


Thousands of pharmacists were polled for their over-the-counter recommendations in a variety of categories. The picks showed that although they aren’t all in agreement, pharmacists do have some clear favorites when it comes to OTC products for treating coughs, colds, and seasonal allergies.

Non-medicated Vicks VapoInhaler was selected by 86% of thousands of pharmacists as their top recommendation for an over-the-counter (OTC), nasal inhaler used to alleviate congestion, and Vicks VapoRub garnered 91% of preferences for topical cough suppressants, ointments. The picks showed that although they aren’t all in agreement, pharmacists do have some clear favorites when it comes to OTC products.

Thousands of pharmacists were recently polled for their OTC recommendations in a variety of categories. The results were shared in the annual OTC Guide jointly published last month by Pharmacy Times and U.S. News & World Report. The guide includes multiple category preferences for treating coughs, colds and seasonal allergies.

Pharmacists’ most-preferred nasal spray for treating congestion is Afrin (77%). In the expectorant category, 82% of the vote went to Mucinex, a product that also was the top preference (26%) in the cough/cold/flu combinations, liquid formations category.

Claritin was the favorite oral antihistamine with 39% of pharmacists’ recommendations, but Sudafed slightly edged it out as the favorite (43%) for sinus products. Zinc cold remedies also had a close pair of top preferences with Zicam (50%) and Cold-EEZE (48%).

DayQuil was pharmacists’ top choice for cough/cold/flu combinations, daytime (28%), and cough/cold/flu combinations, solid formations (27%). DayQuil’s companion product NyQuil was most recommended (43%) for cough/cold/flu combinations, nighttime.

Other significant recommendations included Flonase Allergy Relief (83%) for intranasal corticosteroids, Cold-EEZE (51%) for zinc lozenges, and Nexafed (51%) for abuse-deterrent oral decongestants. Cepacol earned the top spot for for topical cough suppressant lozenges (28%) and cold remedies (37%).

The OTC Guide is designed to assist consumers with an easy and searchable compilation of information culled from trusted professionals, and is made available in print, and at OTCGuide.net. The survey was conducted through HRA—Healthcare Reseaerch Analytics, a consultative healthcare market research practice.

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