Higher peaks in hay fever medication turnover in 2018

© Hollandse Hoogte / EyeEm Mobile GmbH
In 2018, people suffering from hay fever bought their pollen allergy medication relatively late in the year. On the other hand, pharmacy sales of hay fever medication showed higher peaks in April and May than in the same period last year. The allergenic pollen concentration in the air was higher in these two months than one year previously. This is demonstrated by new, experimental figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) which are based on the weekly pharmacy turnover of hay fever medication.

This concerns over-the-counter medication in the form of tablets, nasal sprays or eye drops. Peaks in turnover are usually preceded by peaks in pollen counts in the air. This year, the allergenic pollen count reached its first peak in mid-April; a few weeks later than in 2017, but the measured concentrations were higher.
Likewise, sales of hay fever medication started to increase a few weeks later than in 2017 while the peak in turnover was also higher. The second turnover peak in 2018 followed the first one more shortly afterwards and was also higher than last year’s.

Highest peak during air presence of grass pollen

Every year, early spring - around the beginning of April – marks an increase in the sales of over-the-counter hay fever medication. This is also the period when pollen released by certain tree varieties such as birches trigger allergic reactions. Later on in the season at the end of May/beginning of June, when grass pollen are present in the air, the highest peak in sales is seen each year. This is likely due to the fact that many hay fever sufferers are affected by grass pollen. The time when the pollen concentration is highest is partly dependent on weather conditions.

Turnover in hay fever medication and pollen concentrations in the air
   Turnover index medication (2016=100)Most allergenic pollen per m3 of air
2016126.524
223.43
322.413
424.3107
527.51013
632.9269
730263
835.2179
934.9133
1065.9276
1195.3303
1273.4199
1392.442
14134.71177
15228.43475
16179.9363
17108.6282
18326.3711
19373.3231
20182.9204
21259.785
22510.4506
23561.1563
24159.939
25142.1167
261130
27135.2510
28119.1195
29123181
3088.416
3168.768
3262.198
3367.782
3465.1105
3557.273
3654.5102
3753.344
3851.848
3944.771
4041.79
4133.79
4229.73
4328.11
4425.40
4522.51
4621.41
4723.61
4822.40
4920.70
5022.50
5127.20
5226.66
2017124.96
222.521
322.17
424.910
525.918
6233
731.2351
840.4880
953.8150
1065.347
11111.3124
12110.79
13221.32623
14184.81017
15172.5381
16120.8143
17115.393
18126.764
19144.726
20171.5171
21420.1
22505.9290
23272.9307
24297.9139
25238235
26126122
27129.6156
28103.781
29109.325
3083.364
3173.950
3262.663
3356.965
3464.662
355626
3644.37
3737.725
3837.731
3933.917
4030.520
4130.56
4230.11
4330.61
4430.21
4527.40
4624.90
4725.70
4825.50
4921.93
5025.10
5133.22
5232.648
2018129.15
227.270
325.923
431.8143
534.460
631.2143
733.1262
838.3217
933.584
1058.91054
1183.3237
1266.742
1378.58
14126.1330
15263.23709
16540.14398
17257.8380
1823145
19293.788
20204.9120
21607.4661

New turnover index of hay fever medication

Turnover index of hay fever medication is based on weekly sales figures obtained from Dutch pharmacies. This involves so-called self-medication products which are available without prescription at a pharmacy (drugstore). This type of medication is in the form of tablets, nasal sprays or eye drops which alleviate allergic reactions. These weekly data have been processed by the CBS Centre for Big Data Statistics (CBDS) into a weekly turnover index of hay fever medication. The turnover index is not designed to provide the total sales volume of hay fever medication in the Netherlands, but to give more insight into the development of weekly sales during the hay fever season and the purchasing moments of consumers. Read more about this innovative project on the innovation page.