Shots No More

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by Marek M. Pienkowski, M.D., Ph.D.



With the recent chilly weather and snow on the ground, we are all looking forward to the upcoming spring weather. Unfortunately for some 30% of young teens, this also means allergy season. It is not only sneezing, coughing, wheezing headaches and fatigue. Allergies can affect school performance and teens grades go down, which in turn can interfere with college preparation and scholarship hopes.

Indeed, for some youngsters, allergy immunotherapy with injections by needles, although very effective, is simply very terrifying. Antihistamines are however of limited value in overall treatment of allergies and are often quite sedating, adding to the allergy fatigue symptoms. However, there are new and encouraging developments in the management of allergic disease, one of which is, “allergy immunotherapy tablets.”

“Most recently, the FDA Allergenic Products Advisory Committee reviewed and approved two oral allergy immunotherapy tablets for the treatment of allergies.”

There is currently a great deal of ongoing medical research to improve the treatment methods for allergic conditions and syndromes. Most recently, the FDA Allergenic Products Advisory Committee reviewed and approved two oral allergy immunotherapy tablets for the treatment of allergies.

Those individuals who suffer in the summer with allergies to Timothy grass and five northern grasses could soon have an oral tablet for their treatment. Those who suffer from allergy to ragweed in the fall could also have an oral tablet for immunotherapy to short ragweed. The full approval and marketing for this tablet will likely begin in the spring of 2014. This pill would be by prescription and reimbursable by your insurance companies.

The oral tablet (given sublingually) differs significantly from “sublingual drops.” You can purchase sublingual drops as a form of “food supplement” from the vitamin section of your grocery store, or have it dispensed in a clinic that is not FDA approved. Neither of these options is reimbursable by insurance.

An allergy specialist should always evaluate each patient individually and perform a clinical examination first. Then, the allergy specialist can determine if the oral allergy immunotherapy tablet would be the best treatment plan to manage the allergic condition.

Oral allergy immunotherapy tablets will not be able to replace allergy immunotherapy with injections. Allergy immunotherapy with injections can be formulated to bring relief to patients with multiple environmental allergies, while the oral tablets will only work for a few specific allergens. However, this will add a significant new option of allergy treatment for needle-phobic children and teens.


DrPienkowskiMarek M. Pienkowski, M.D., Ph.D. was educated in clinical immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore and internal medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Dr. Pienkowski has been serving patients in East Tennessee with allergies, asthma and immunological disorders for nearly 30 years through Allergic Diseases, Asthma & Immunology Clinic, P.C.. Active both in biomedical research and academia, he has published more than sixty scientific papers as well as two books.


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