FDA Approves Sub-Lingual Pill for Grass Pollen Allergy - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

FDA Approves Sub-Lingual Pill for Grass Pollen Allergy

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Most of us will be glad when the snow is all gone, and the grass turns green. But for people with grass allergies, the toughest time of the year is about to begin.

Feeling better will soon be as easy as putting a pill under your tongue.  The FDA has approved the first under-the-tongue allergy treatments.

Merck calls their's Grastek. Another manufacturer has Oralair. They offer a new immunotherapy alternative for patients who until now have had to get regular allergy shots.

The drug manufacturers have compressed grass pollen extracts into a tablet that will quickly dissolve under the tongue.

According to allergist, Dr. Philip Gallagher, patients using the new pills will slowly build a tolerance to grass pollen, something they used to accomplish through routine allergy shots.

In drug trials patients saw as much as a 16 to 30% reduction in symptoms over typical treatments.

"The meds we use to control symptoms don't deal with the underlying problem," said Dr. Gallagher. "Whereas this will increase tolerance to the grass pollen for people. Those who are under control with a little medication that's probably still the way to go, but for those not under control, this is a good option," Gallagher added. 

Grastek is a prescription drug. Patients will take their first dose under supervision in a doctor's office, but will take the rest at home. If you're wondering if it will be able to help you with the upcoming grass allergy season, the answer is no.  That's because grass allergy sufferers need to take it for three or four months before the grass pollen hits the air. But Dr. Gallagher says now is the time to visit your doctor and get evaluated to see if you should start on it next winter. 

The medication is grass pollen specific.  Dr. Gallagher says in Erie the grass pollen hits the air the same time as the Cottonwood Poplar seeds are floating around.  Some people may think they are allergic to the trees, but may really be reacting to the grass. 

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