Friday, April 2, 2010

How Effective is Oral Immunotherapy Today in the U.S.?

The results of two important studies have been released.

First, on 3/2/10 Merck announced the results of a study looking at oral immunotherapy for children 5 to 17 years old with grass pollen allergy.  The study was the first phase three trial in the U.S. to show benefit for oral immunotherapy.  The study must be repeated in a form approved by the FDA and show at least the same benefit before Merck could consider applying for FDA approval to market this product, called Grazax in Europe.  This is likely not going to be its name in the U.S.  Bottom line: keep breathing, this story could have a happy ending in 4-5 more years.  Yep, it can take that long sometimes to get approved and marketed.

Second, in March 2010 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, pp.660-666 [not available online unless you sign up], by Skoner et al, the results were published of a oral immunotherapy study using ragweed pollen for seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis from ragweed pollen.  Bottom line: no benefit.  OUCH.  But studies outside the U.S. have shown benefit.  Bottom line 2: don't hold your breath if you want allergy drops for relief from ragweed allergies even if you practice water ballet.

Incidentally, I am participating in a study examining the efficacy and safety of ragweed pollen in oral drops for reducing the signs and symptoms of ragweed allergies during the fall.  We'll see how it goes.
Your Allergy Dude

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