While allergy shots are the most widely used immunotherapy treatment in the United States, finding time for weekly allergy shots can be difficult. Allergy drops however, offer a safe and effective alternative to weekly injections. Allergy drops can be administered at home. After allergy testing is completed, an individualized extract prescription is prepared for each patient based on their specific allergy testing results. Patients take a daily dose of their allergy drop extract and advance through build up dilutions to reach their maintenance dose in just one month.
While both allergy drops and allergy injections work well in alleviating bothersome allergy symptoms, allergy drops are better accepted and tolerated by needle-averse children. And since allergy drops can be given at home, trying to fit time into your busy family schedule to go to the doctor’s office for a weekly allergy injection can become a thing of the past.
Although there is still some risk for adverse reactions related to allergy drops, these risks are significantly less than those associated with allergy shots. Systemic reactions (anaphylaxis) can still occur with allergy drops. Therefore, care still has to be taken when allergy drops are started and advanced. Local reactions in the mouth, throat and stomach can also occur. For these reasons, allergy drop immunotherapy should to be prescribed and administered under proper supervision by a physician specifically trained in allergy and immunology.
While the allergen extracts used in allergy drops are the same ones that are used in allergy shots, their use in oral form has not yet been approved by the FDA. Studies are underway here in the U.S. to obtain FDA approval and this will likely occur within the next few years. But this means that for the time being, neither insurance companies nor Medicare will reimburse for the cost of allergy drops. However, many patients are able to use health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts to help cover the cost of their allergy drops.
Originally developed in Europe, allergy drops are the “new frontier” for allergen immunotherapy treatments in the U.S. Allergy drops have been used in Europe for over 30 years and significantly refined over the past 25 years. Allergy drops have shown excellent benefit when used in patients who are most affected by a limited number of allergens, perhaps 10-15 relevant sensitivities. Allergy drops offer a safe, convenient and effective option for patients who suffer with allergic symptoms from a variety of pollen, mold, animal dander or dust allergens and who have not responded sufficiently to avoidance measures or over-the-counter medications.