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Asthma Health Center

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Relieve Ragweed Allergies Without Shots

Tablets Help Relieve Symptoms Such as Runny Nose, Congestion, Watery Eyes

Tablets Relieve Ragweed Allergy Symptoms continued...

During ragweed season, which runs for about four to six weeks in August and September, everyone recorded their symptoms and need for relief medications in electronic diaries.

During the peak two weeks of the season, the tablet reduced symptoms -- including sneezing, runny and itchy noses, congestion, and gritty and watery eyes -- by 17% and 14% at the higher and lower doses, respectively, compared with placebo.

It also reduced the need for standard allergy medications at the two doses vs. placebo.

The most frequent side effects were throat irritation and itching of the mouth. No one died.

Two patients did need epinephrine, an injectable drug used to treat serious allergic reactions. However, one case was due to an unrelated reaction to peanuts.

Some Patients Welcome Alternative to Shots

Asked whether the tablets are as effective as shots, Creticos says a head-to-head comparison of the two is needed to really answer the question.

Mitchell Grayson, MD, an allergy specialist at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, tells WebMD that he welcomes a tablet, as some of his patients find shots annoying or painful. "And the tablets seem to be less likely to cause [life-threatening] reactions than the shots," he says.

One advantage to shots is that many different allergies can be treated at once, Grayson says.

"Most Americans are allergic to many different things, and with injections, you can pretty much cover all of them. So far, the tablets are each directed at different allergies -- one for grass, one for ragweed, for example. That wouldn’t be very convenient for a person with [a lot of] allergies," he says.

Allergy shots typically are taken for about two to five years, after which many people can stop them and feel relief for years afterward, according to Grayson. It's not yet known for how long people will have to take the new tablets.

If approved, the tablets would only have to be taken for four months before, and during the four to six weeks of, ragweed season, Creticos says. They were given for 52 weeks in the study so the researchers could better assess their safety.

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