March 27, 2013
Allergy Drops Present Good Alternative to Shots
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Given the choice, most people would opt for drops under the tongue over a needle in the arm. Yet the Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet approved the delivery method, which is widely available and has been well studied in Europe.
A report compiling findings from 63 published studies involving 5,131 participants finds allergy drops are safe, convenient and potentially more effective than injections. USA Today reported on the findings in advance of the report's publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday.
"Our findings are clear evidence that sublingual immunotherapy in the form of allergy drops are an effective potential treatment option," senior study investigator Sandra Lin told USA Today.
Allergy drops are delivered sublingually, or under the tongue. The drops can be self-administered, at home on a patient's schedule. Allergy shots require a trip to the doctor's office every week or two, co-pays and wait time at the doctor's office.
Some professionals believe there needs to be more testing. Kevin McGrath, a spokesman for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and an allergist in Wethersfield, Conn., states this is a promising treatment for the future.
He said, in the USA Today article, allergy drops have been somewhat effective for single allergens. "There really are no good studies right now that have proven effectiveness for multiple allergens, which is what the majority of patients in the US need."
Most research on the medicine delivery has been done in Europe, where allergy drops are used already. Using the findings from 63 studies, researchers found in eight of 13 studies there was "strong evidence" drop therapy led to a 40 percent or higher reduction in chest tightness, coughing and wheezing, compared with other treatments, the USA Today article said.
Allergy drops are approved and in use in Europe. The FDA has yet to approve the medicine delivery. It is said some doctors already give drops to patients as an "off-label" practice.
Up to 40 percent of the US population suffers from allergic asthma or allergic rhinitis (hay fever), said an article in Medical News Today. Allergy drops have been found to be an effective treatment option for those suffering from allergic asthma and allergies.
Like injections, allergy drops are made with small amounts of purified pollen, mold, dust mites, grasses or other allergens specific to the patient. They work by injecting, or introducing, the allergen in a small and safe form so that the body can build up immunity or resistance to the substance. Most allergy shots are delivered a few times a week to a few times a month to sufferers. The regimen can be time consuming. Allergy drops can be administered at home, by the patient, without the cost or time spent visiting a doctor at the frequency prescribed. It not only saves the patient money, but also insurance companies. It also frees up time in the doctor's office to care for more patients.