Allergy medicines: Shots vs. drops

By: NBC News Email
By: NBC News Email

For years, allergy sufferers have endured weekly rounds of immunotherapy shots designed to train their immune system to ignore allergy triggers like pollen or grass.

It's a significant investment of time and money.

Now researchers are investigating a different way to deliver the same medication, with under-the-tongue drops.

It's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but has been used in Europe for decades and in the United States as an off-label drug.

Dr. Sandra Lin at Johns Hopkins University reviewed more than 60 studies that looked at the effectiveness of the drops and found they not only cut down on allergy symptoms, but also the number of medications patients took.

It worked for allergy sufferers of all ages, welcome news for little patients who have a fear of shots.

"The studies have shown down to very young kids, even toddlers, as long as they can cooperate with holding the drops under the tongue that they are actual candidates for this," Dr. Lin notes.

Because there are no FDA approved manufacturers of under-the-tongue allergy drops in the U.S. outside experts warn dosing could be inconsistent.

Researchers and patients hope with more study allergy drops will soon be approved here.

The drops are not covered by insurance, however, many patients say they are cheaper than shots when you include the cost of frequent co-pays and travel expenses.


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