As hay fever season gets into full gear, drugmakers and other companies are releasing another generation of products aimed at soothing watery eyes, runny noses and other symptoms of grass, tree or flower allergies.

The Environment Ministry said pollen began flying in earnest around mid-February, starting in Kyushu and spreading to the rest of the country.

The latest advances being marketed to deal the annual scourge include an oral drug, masks that leave makeup intact, treatments for keeping eyeglasses fog-free, and a small portable air purifier.

Rohto Pharmaceutical Co. launched a new oral medicine it calls an antiallergic capsulated drug in January. The medicine has a new ingredient that limits the occurrence of allergic symptoms.

If taken twice a day from the start of hay fever season, the medicine will ease allergy symptoms at the season’s peak, Rohto’s public relations office said. The product, approved as an over-the-counter medicine last year, costs ¥2,310 for a 20-capsule pack.

Tokyo-based Rohto hopes the new product will vault sales of hay fever-related products to ¥3.2 billion, up ¥200 million from average, for the second half of fiscal 2008, which ends this month.

Kowa Co. of Nagoya has come up with a Sanjigen (Third Dimension) mask that avoids smudging makeup. The mask is lined on the inside with a fluoride compound that repels oil and water to prevent lipstick and foundation from sticking to it.

Yukihiro Hosoe, chief of the company’s second marketing division, said the mask is designed for women who used to avoid using pollen masks because they were more worried about their vanity than their allergies.

Tokyo-based Hakugen Co. is offering a mask that doesn’t fog up eyeglasses. The innovation is a sponge nosepiece on the inside that blocks the gaps between the nose and the cheekbones — an area ordinary masks don’t completely cover. Covering these gaps forces exhaled hot air to exit the mask in other directions instead of straight up through the gaps, preventing fogging.

Sanyo Electric Co.’s eneloop air fresher debuted last year at a street price of around ¥28,000. The cylindrical air cleaner is 17.5 cm high and about 7 cm across and can be carried to a desk or in a car.

The company’s public relations office claims the gadget “can carry fresh air to any place.”

It said the purifier works by electrolyzing tap water stored in its tank and emitting a fog from the top that destroys pollen allergens in the air.

The purifier works best in standard six tatami mat rooms if used with an air conditioner. It works on external power or by using its built-in battery, which lasts for four hours, Sanyo said.

Marketing firm Fuji Keizai of Tokyo said that while the market for pollen-related goods is rising, it fluctuates according to the amount of allergens dispersed.

Senior Fuji Keizai official Kunihiko Ishioka, however, said the market is still being stimulated by the emergence of “functional” masks.

Tadao Enomoto, a visiting professor from Tottori University’s faculty of medicine, said that despite recent advances, the basics — masks and medicines — remain key to surviving the allergy season.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.