If spring evokes thoughts of tissues rather than love because of allergies, there may be some new treatments on the horizon. As reported in a story in The New York Times, allergists may abandon the old series of injections to desensitize sufferers in favor of using drops or tablets placed under the tongue.
As most allergic people know, desensitization can require a series of shots given at varying intervals for up to 3 years. But some folks dislike getting frequent injections and simply don t follow up with the whole series.
Now Merck and a French company, Stallergenes, are seeking FDA approval to market their products in the United States. One drawback of these new oral products is that they aren t tailored to individuals specific allergies, the way that the injections can be. The current versions of the sublingual drops and tablets target grass pollens the French treatment contains extracts from five grass pollens, and is meant to be used about 6 months each year. Merck s drug, containing pollen from Timothy grass, should be used year round.
In a company study of 1500 adults and children allergic to Timothy grass, Merck reported a 20 percent reduction in symptoms during one allergy season compared to people using a placebo.
According to the NY Times story, Merck has also applied for approval of a tablet to treat ragweed allergy. More such treatments, for example for allergies to dust mites, are possible future remedies.
ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross s take on these products: Sublingual allergen desensitization drops or tablets can surely benefit some people with allergies that interfere with their desired lifestyle especially children who are averse to multiple shots. Hopefully more diverse treatments will be developed and allow people with multiple allergies to get relief.