Zyrtec (cetirizine) was originally a prescription product; however, it is now available over-the-counter (OTC). Because the cost of Zyrtec OTC is less than that of prescription Zyrtec, many people wonder if the quality or strength of the drug has changed. It hasn't -- the OTC version is the same as prescription Zyrtec. The price of a drug often drops significantly when switched to OTC status.
Zyrtec® (cetirizine hydrochloride) is an antihistamine approved to treat allergy symptoms. It is also approved to treat itching due to hives, which may or may not be caused by allergies.
The drug is available in combination with a decongestant (see Zyrtec-D for more information). Although Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D were originally prescription products, they are now available without a prescription (also known as over-the-counter or OTC).
Many people (especially those who have been taking the prescription version of Zyrtec) have questions about the switch to OTC status. This article addresses some of the most common questions.
Q: Is prescription Zyrtec still available?
A: No --when the OTC versions of Zyrtec became available, the prescription versions were discontinued. While you may be able to get prescription Zyrtec for a bit longer, this will not continue as supplies run out.
Q: Is OTC Zyrtec the same as prescription Zyrtec?
A: Yes, they are the same. Often, OTC versions are available in lower strengths, compared to their prescription counterparts. However, with Zyrtec, the full prescription strength is available without a prescription.