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Allergies Health Center

Got Hay Fever? New Tablets vs. Allergy Shots

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Both Eisele and Moody note that actual costs will vary, depending on your insurance coverage. Allergy shots cost about $25 each.

Q. Even before Oralair, Ragwitek, and Grastek became available, weren’t some U.S. doctors using similar treatments for allergies?

A. Doctors have been using under-the-tongue drops for “off-label” use. Off-label means a medication is being used in a way not specified in the FDA's approved packaging label. 

A 2011 survey by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that more than 11% of those polled said they used under-the-tongue drops, nearly double the percentage from a 2007 survey. The drops have the same extracts used in allergy shots.

Lin says she mixes the extracts according to patients’ allergy test results. She sends them home with a metered vial so they know how much to take each day. There is no standard dose; Lin says she bases the size of the doses on research published by European doctors. Cox says she hasn’t prescribed the drops because “we don’t know what the effective dose would be.”

Q. What if you don’t like to get a bunch of shots or have to remember to take medicine every day? What’s on the horizon?

A. How about four monthly shots? Period. That’s all it took for an experimental treatment for cat allergies to protect against symptoms 2 years after the first shot. The treatment, developed by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, is in its final stage of pre-market testing. The scientists are also working on a similar approach to treat ragweed and dust mite allergies.

Cox has served as a consultant for Stallergenes, the French company that markets Oralair.

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