PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — To train your body to handle what makes you allergic, there have been allergy shots.
But now there are allergy tablets.
“I think a lot of people will choose this,” says Dr. David Skoner, Allegheny General Hospital’s allergy specialist. “This has been used all around the world for a long time now, and it just arrived in the U.S.”
Based on large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, the FDA has approved Oralair for people ages 10 to 65 with stuffy noses and maybe even red, itchy eyes because of grass pollen.
Another one, Grastek, may be approved soon as well.
As opposed to weekly shots at the doctor’s office, these tablets dissolve under the tongue every day in the comfort of your own home.
“Having a tablet to give people who are needle phobic, people with busy lifestyles, is a great development,” said Dr. Skoner.
As a precaution, the first dose is given in the doctor’s office, and patients go home with an epinephrine auto injector, just in case a severe reaction develops with throat swelling and a drop in blood pressure.
Dr. Skoner says, “30 percent of people have itching, and so on, around the tongue.”
People with poorly-controlled asthma should not go this route. So far, no deaths with the tablets, though very rarely, deaths have occurred with allergy shots.
The tablets may cost $3 to $5 each at first, and there may be a lag before insurance companies pick up the cost for this new product.
The tablets need to be started four months before allergy season starts, so it’s too late for this season, with grass pollen expected to hit in mid-May.
But the tablet for ragweed may be approved in time when that pollen hits in late summer. An advisory panel to the FDA unanimously recommends approval.