GSK's Flonase, Sanofi's Nasacort roll out kid-labeled OTC sprays

A battle for kids' pollen proclivities is shaping up this allergy season. Both Sanofi's ($SNY) Nasacort and GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Flonase have introduced children's-labeled versions of the now-OTC steroid nasal sprays for the spring season.

And the advertising is heating up. Children's Nasacort was out first with a TV ad in February with a cute "all stuffed up" kid who gets relief with the spray, then heads outside to play with a friend. Sanofi has spent $1.1 million on the kid spot since the beginning of February.

Including the stuffed-up kid ad, Sanofi has socked $11.5 million into Nasacort TV spots over the same time period, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. The campaign's four ads use the same spokeswoman in a dark blue dress explaining the benefits of the drug beside images of the allergy sufferers.

GSK's Children's Flonase launched its just-for-children spot in late March with its own bunch of cute kids--plus a puppy--playing outside. Its ad continues the general Flonase message of "6 is better than 1," referring to how the medicine works. So far, the Children's Flonase spot has racked up just over $880,000; Flonase overall has spent more than $21.9 million on four TV spots, including this one, since February, according to iSpot.tv.

That's almost twice Sanofi's spending so far in the overall category. Last year, which was the first year of going OTC for Flonase, GSK spent $71 million on TV ads during the spring allergy season that went through May.

Neither of the ads targets child viewers. Airings have occurred on network news, late night talk shows and cable TV stations like TNT and Food Network, where parents, not kids, tend to be the viewers.

With the launch of its Children's label, GSK said its research found that 67% of parents of children ages 4-11 with seasonal allergies have limited their kids' outdoor time during allergy season. It launched Children's Flonase so "parents can let their children play outside with confidence," the company said in a press release.

Neither formulation differs from the adult versions, just the labeling has changed with the addition of the word "Children's" on both. Nasacort was originally FDA-approved for children 2 and older, while Flonase was approved for children 4 and older.

GSK logged sales of $99.8 million for Flonase in its first 16 weeks on the market through end of May last year, according to a Drug Store News report. Sanofi reported Nasacort sales of €122 million, or about $140 million, for full year 2015.

The competitive allergy category includes several other steroid sprays including Merck's ($MRK) prescription Nasonex, and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) newly OTC Rhinocort.

- watch Flonase and Nasacort kid commercials
- read GSK press release

Special Report: The top 10 most advertised prescription drug brands

Read more on