Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

ALLERGY PILL VS. NEEDLE ; Results with Tablets Have Been Promising

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

ALLERGY PILL VS. NEEDLE ; Results with Tablets Have Been Promising

Article excerpt

For sufferers, allergy season usually requires monthly visits with a needle. But those suffering from seasonal allergies now have another choice for more permanent relief that doesn't require a needle - allergy immunotherapy in the form of a dissolvable pill.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration approved three allergy tablets - two for grass pollen and one for ragweed.

For decades, seasonal allergy sufferers had limited options - over the counter antihistamines, prescription intranasal steroids and antihistamines to help reduce symptoms or immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots that helped the body stop reacting to allergens, said Dr. Majed Koleilat, an allergist at Deaconess Clinic.

Many, though, just masked the symptoms with over-thecounter treatments like Sudafed or Benadryl and avoided the longer-term solution that addressed the issue, allergy shots, because of a fear or discomfort of needles or the commitment the shots require from a couple of times a week to eventually once a month for about three years.

The new sublingual - under the tongue - therapy is administered at home, after the first dose, and shows clinical improvement during the first year of use and more permanent effects after a couple of years of treatment, said Dr. Linda Cox, allergist and immunologist and immediate past president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Experts consider this FDA approval as "huge" to those who suffer from these grass and ragweed allergies. While all of the specifics are still being worked out, it appears insurance companies will cover the tablets in a similar way to prescriptions with a copay unlike allergy injections that are administered by a physician or other medical personnel, she said.

"Only about 5 percent of those suffering from allergies seek out treatment," Cox said, pointing to the fear of needles and commitment required. "Instead they just deal with the symptoms and do nothing for the underlying process. These tablets are a process that induces an immune tolerance changing the immune system's response to allergens allowing you to be more protected or tolerant to them, whereas other medications control symptoms and year after year you will continue to be impacted when you have the exposure. …

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