Allergy immunotherapy is a disease modifying treatment which has been used for the past 100 years for the long-term management of allergic rhinitis (sneezing, congestion and runny nose) and allergic conjunctivitis (itchy, red, watery eyes). When treated for approximately 3 years, immunotherapy users can expect a reduction in symptoms, a decrease in medication use, and an improvement in their quality of life. When started in early childhood, immunotherapy has been found to reduce the rate of development of new allergies and decrease the risk of asthma development. Immunotherapy has also been shown to reduce total healthcare costs, for both children and adults, when compared with symptomatic treatment alone (i.e. medications), and it is beneficial for other diseases, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, eczema, sinusitis, postnasal drip and food allergy.
The oldest method of delivering immunotherapy is through the subcutaneous route by giving weekly allergy shots. Limitations to the acceptance of allergy shots include the inconvenience of weekly office visits, the fear of needles, discomfort from local reactions, and the risk of systemic reactions.
Sublingual immunotherapy (drops or tablets placed under the tongue) has been used to treat allergies in clinical practice for more than 50 years. In 1986 the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a randomized clinical trial and concluded that sublingual immunotherapy was equally effective, and therefore an acceptable alternative to allergy shots (published in 1998). Sublingual immunotherapy placed under the tongue currently represents the majority of immunotherapy prescriptions in Europe and Asia, and its use is steadily increasing in the United States.
Because of the more gradual absorption of allergens via the sublingual route, the safety profile of sublingual immunotherapy is superior to that of weekly allergy shots, allowing for home administration. Sublingual immunotherapy are drops placed under the tongue which are personalized, or customized, for each patient’s own allergies and mixed into a single bottle which makes it very easy for a person to take daily, in the convenience of their own home.