Liquid drops could replace allergy shots
March 27th, 2013
11:33 AM ET

Liquid drops could replace allergy shots

In Europe, some allergy sufferers are given sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, to treat their symptoms. These tiny drops of purified allergens - such as pollen or dust mites - are placed under the tongue as an alternative to weekly allergy shots. The drops work like a vaccine, slowly increasing the body's tolerance to the allergen.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet not approved these drops for use in the United States, but new evidence published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association could pave the way for American pharmaceutical companies.

"There is a tremendous interest in this treatment," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. "As such there have been and are currently clinical trials underway by various companies looking to try to get an approval and come to the U.S. market in the years ahead."

Dr. Sandra Lin from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her colleagues reviewed 63 studies to analyze the effectiveness of allergy drops.

The researchers found strong evidence that the drops improve asthma symptoms, with eight of 13 studies reporting an improvement of more than 40%. They also found moderate evidence that the drops decrease symptoms of allergic rhinitis - symptoms such as a runny nose or congested sinuses that are similar to those caused by the common cold.

In 16 of 41 studies, allergy medication use decreased significantly among participants taking sublingual immunotherapy.

The researchers concluded that these under-the-tongue drops are effective, but that more research is needed to determine the optimal doses.

Up to 40% of Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma, according to the journal article. Currently patients are administered allergen immunotherapy through skin injections, Bassett said. Allergy drops could be more convenient than these allergy shots, as they could be administered quickly and easily at home.

"I expect this year's pollen season to be among the worst, in part due to higher pollen levels ... maybe made worse by warmer temperatures and climates," Bassett said.

Here are five of his tips for surviving the allergy season:

1) Wear sunglasses to block airborne allergens from entering your eyes.

2) Consider exercising indoors on high-pollen days. More pollen is generally found on warm, dry and windy days.

3) Start early with allergy treatments - many medications work better if you start them before symptoms begin.

4) Shower before going to bed to reduce the number of allergens that are brought into your bedroom.

5) Keep your windows closed and set your air conditioner to "recirculate" to keep out pollen.

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. MrRetentive

    Dr. George Kroker of Allergy Associates of Lacrosse, WI has been using this method for years. It has given my wife great results. Our insurance carrier, however, won't pay for office visits or the sublingual immunotherapy. Allergy Associates of Lacrosse web site is located here... http://www.lacrosseallergy.com/default.aspx

    March 27, 2013 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Benjamin

      My wife and I have actually been using a non-prescription homeopathic product sold by Whole Foods for a little over two years now. It makes a big difference for us reducing the severity of our seasonal allergies. As I recall it isn't very expensive. Just make sure that you get the formulation that includes the allergens for the region where you live. I would be curious what conclusion the FDA would reach if they were to evaluate it...

      March 27, 2013 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • NotFDAApproved

      According to the nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy "Homeopathic remedies are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, FDA does not evaluate the remedies for safety or effectiveness." Base upon this statement, I have no idea what the FDA does about homeopathy.

      March 27, 2013 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  2. craig

    I've been doing this (in the US) for my kid the last 2 years. It works, its safe. Amazing how quick the FDA can approve poorly tested product, but something as common sense as this gets sidelined. Guess its the FDA's job to wait until the PharmaCo's get positioned to catch all the profits, then it will happen at a jacked up price. Right now i'm paying $75 (not covered by insurance), through the ENT for a months (+/-) supply. The drops are supplied by a local company.

    March 27, 2013 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cm1

      $60 per month in the Dallas area.

      March 27, 2013 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • Poppy

      Exactly. And isn't this called homeopathy, which has been around for centuries but debunked by allopathic medicine as "junk science"? Now that there's money to be made off a common affliction, everybody lines up to complicate it and make a huge profit. Visit your local health food store, and check out the many homeopathic allergy remedies - they work very well without side effects, and cost a fraction of what these treatments will.

      March 27, 2013 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Training Immune System vs Homeopathy

      The main difference between concentrated drops of allergens and homeopathy is concentration and intended mechanism of action. Homeopathy dilutes the believed active ingredient to the point that it is infinitessimal in the hopes that it will cure what is ailing. This treatment isn't diluted like homeopathy, it is concentrated. It is also not designed to cure what is ailing you but train your immune system to ignore the allergens through repeated exposure. That's why this treatment works and why it isn't homeopathy.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
  3. alisha

    Really? administered at home? I beg to differ. What happens when this patient that goes home with allergy drops and has an allergic reaction? Who would then be held responsible. If this passes for home treatment the FDA should be.

    March 27, 2013 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • eddie

      My allergist was just talking about this. There isn't supposed to be a risk for anaphylaxis just localized numbness at the application site, if that.

      March 27, 2013 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • cm1

      > Really? administered at home?


      > I beg to differ.

      Which makes you ignorant. Get off your lazy butt and do some research.

      > What happens when this patient that goes home with allergy drops and has an allergic reaction? Who would then be held responsible.

      You, if you failed to follow the very simple instructions. The doctor, if they failed to correctly asses the patient. Just like high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other serious ailment that has to be managed over a long period of time.

      March 27, 2013 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      I have had anaphylaxis to an allergy shot when I was 16. I was getting them at home because my aunt is a RN. The amount of time that it took my throat to swell and hives to take over my body was only seconds. I thought I was going to die before EMTs got to our house. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me and I never fully recovered, as I can no longer get allergy shots because they make me worse. The doctors denied it to begin with but then said there is a rare chance that anaphylaxis to the shots can reverse the effects of the shots which is what happened to me. I tried to start shots again 7 years after the reaction (in the doctors office) and I got up to a certain dose and it started making me worse again. I have eczema/asthma too and it would flare both up after every shot to the point of keeping me out of work. I think the safest thing to do is continue to get these shots at the doctor. They are, after all, injecting small portions of what you are allergic to into your body.

      March 27, 2013 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • Lucy99

      That is why I have a EpiPen and you bet I would purchase the drops over an injection at the Dr. office any day.

      March 27, 2013 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      I had epinephrine too, just wasn't enough to stop my reaction fast enough.

      March 27, 2013 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Vicki Jean

      Dr. George Kroker of Allergy Associates in LaCrosse, WI is my allergy doctor and they have been treating with sublingual drops at home for decades. After having a severe reaction after allergy shots, I could no longer take them. The difference here is that the drops are at a much lesser strength than the shots, so no anaphylaxis like the shots. After moving to another area of the country, I found a local ENT who treated with drops but he can't give me the drops because the ones they use are as strong as the shots. So I travel to LaCrosse because the allergy drops there actually work for me.

      March 27, 2013 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • craig

      Yep, doctor wrote out prescription for epi-pen, have a few around. Not a bad idea to have these around anyway, my kids have never been wasp or bee stung, and if they had a reaction it would nice to have one around. It doesn't take a PhD to use one.

      March 27, 2013 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
  4. Kat

    I've been taking these for at least 3 years. So much easier (and cheaper – even though insurance doesn't cover them) than going to the doctor's office every week for shots. They work amazingly well. Each time up get an updated vial, my ENT makes you take them in the office the first time and wait for 15 minutes to make sure there is no adverse reaction – the same thing they do if you get the shots. After that, you take them at home until you need an updated vial

    March 27, 2013 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. satch99

    I live in Miami Beach,
    I was fine for seven years and then, Bam! Horrible Allergies. Went to a specialist who prescribed these sublingual drops and I started them drops three years ago. Feb/Mar is the worst time for me and I haven't had one allergy attack this year, and only a couple last year. I love these drops. Even the pollen report locally at the highest levels and no allergies. I did phone sales and it was so bad a few years ago I could not even work.

    FDA and Insurance co's should approve and cover these respectively.

    March 27, 2013 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SJ

      Please tell me where to get these drops. I have been living down here in South Florida for seven years and had no problems. This year I was diagnosed with severe allergies. I do not want to do shots so if you could please tell me how to get these drops, it would be wonderful.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
  6. C.J. White

    Wow. This is the first I've seen of 'introduction' of Homeopathy into the 'drug company's' hands and actually being accepted as a 'new thing' for allergies. Ha! Homeopathy has been around forever and these drops are not going to work as well as true Homeopathic drops. Here in Texas you can get 'Allergena' for all Texas trees, grasses, shrubs, mold and mildew, etc. in a bottle that cost about $18.00 at any health food store. And there is only the 'remembrance' of the allergens in the solution, not the actual substances! These drops are a knockoff of true homeopathy. Its what people used before western medicine invented 'vaccines'. Vaccines are dangerous. Homeopathy does the SAME THING, with very very little cost. I even use a multifaceted 'homeopathy' program which includes thousands of 'frequencies' called the aim program of energetic balancing. $100. per month and no doctor visits. There are many Homeopathic allergy drops on the market that are specific to the 'zone' you live in. Each season you buy a bottle and within 7 days tops all your symptoms are GONE. Safe for kids, (I used on mine), no ability to 'overdose' and NO SIDE effects. C'mon you don't even need a doctor's visit. Do your own research on HOmeopathy , or find a HOmeopathic Doctor. To each his own. You are responsible for your own health and wellbeing, not your doctor or the FDA.

    March 27, 2013 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anne

      I can't speak to your experience with homeopathy, and if it's working for you, great. But the treatment they're talking about isn't homeopathic. Dosing levels are distinctly different (significantly higher) and are based on specific testing.

      March 28, 2013 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Homeopathy by definition means there's nothing of the particular substance in the medication. So, no, it's not the same thing. Please don't waste your money on that homeopathy garbage. You are making some evil, greedy people very rich by not being informed.

      March 28, 2013 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
  7. Denise

    My brother, sister and I used to take drops back in the 70's and 80's. I'm surprised at how many people haven't heard of them.

    March 27, 2013 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Perry

    I have been going to Allergy Associates of Lacrosse, WI since around the year 2000. This treatment using drops instead of shots was much better for me. It is easier, convienient, and safer than shots. I think the key is how it is prepared to your profile and modified as you get better over time. Allergy Associates of Lacrosse, WI seems to have this procedure in very good control for me anyway. I'm glad to see that it is seriously being looked at to possibly becoming a more mainstream procedure.

    March 27, 2013 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dan

    I too used this treatment through Allergy Associates of LaCrosse, WI. I was treated using the drops for 5 years and had zero side affects or reactions. I am sold on the treatment. I received weekly allergy injections for many years and still had sinus and breathing problems during the allergy season. After the first 6 to 8 months on the drops the issues I had been experiencing went away. I swore I would never receive another injection. To this day I do not have the issues I had experienced in the past. Many insurance companies covered the cost whereas my insurance did not since, to them, it was considered "Experimental". For me the drops worked.

    March 27, 2013 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jessica

    Benjamin, what is the product that you use from Whole Foods? I'd like to purchase some for myself. Thank you!

    March 27, 2013 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. C.J. White

    http://www.meditrend.com/allergena/ Here's one for everywhere and everyone

    March 27, 2013 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. pat

    Royal jelly.

    March 28, 2013 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. David

    I did sublingual immunotherapy from 2008-2011 in addition to making dietary changes; I used to need 2 asthma medications plus an antihistamine from spring through late fall of each year. I've been off these for a few years now. I live in Maryland and found a physician in the DC area by doing an internet query for SLIT therapy in my area; I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone with seasonal allergies/ asthma. Sometimes my insurance company paid for the treatments, other times they would not. He had a self pay option that was a minimal amount (maybe $40) monthlly and was well worth it.

    March 28, 2013 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lloyd Sionesini

    Most people will have some problem with allergies or allergic reactions at some point in their lives. Allergic reactions can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. Most allergic reactions are mild, and home treatment can relieve many of the symptoms. An allergic reaction is more serious when severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) occurs, when allergies cause other problems (such as nosebleeds, ear problems, wheezing, or coughing), or when home treatment doesn't help.

    June 7, 2013 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Berry Bustin

    An allergist/immunologist can provide expert medical advice and treatment in the evaluation and management of people with allergic diseases, asthma and immune problems (see above for types of patients seen). This includes the ability to perform and interpret allergy testing, expertise in treating complex allergic diseases and asthma, as well as the ability to prescribe allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).

    June 7, 2013 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Delicia Thornberg

    Asthma makes breathing difficult for more than 34 million Americans. Asthma symptoms, which include coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness, are common in an asthma attack. Sometimes asthma is called bronchial asthma or reactive airway disease. Asthma in children is on the rise, but with proper treatment for symptoms of asthma, kids and adults can live well. ^`^.

    Our web portal

    June 8, 2013 at 05:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lacy Hallback

    Symptoms of allergic rhinitis resemble a cold, but they are not caused by a virus the way a cold is. When you breathe in an allergen, your immune system springs into action. It releases substances known as IgEs into your nasal passages, along with inflammatory chemicals such as histamines. Your nose, sinuses, or eyes may become itchy and congested. Scientists aren't sure what causes your immune system to overreact to an allergen.`,;"

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    July 2, 2013 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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    September 14, 2013 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. dka

    I have been a classic example of allergy sufferer. My tree pollen allergies started in 96 and since then they have gotten worse with asthma symptom during high pollen season requiring 2-3 medicines to treat them. I have been following research on thisSLIT therapy and surprisingly enough it has been approved in Europe but US FDA is sitting on it. The otc options are now available and their is a strong lobbying against it as it will put lot of Drs out of business of allergy shots. Scientifically, this treatment is same as shots but can be done more effectively without weekly visits to Dr. Office. It may be even more effective if better developed. I started my first treatment with Allergan drops 45 days ago, well before the ragweed/elm season in Texas and I am passing through peak of pollen counts without need for old allergy medicines. So its promising and I will continue the treatment through summer next year to see how well I will do during cedar and spring/live oak season.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
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    December 2, 2015 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Gigi

    I am allergic to dust mites , it causes severe reactions in my case but STALORAL sublingual immunotherapy / allergy under the tongue drops saved my life I truly recommend it to all allergy sufferers it s so effective . I ve been using it for almost 2month now then the European laboratory who create this amazing drops faced some problems that we don't know about until this moment so I am no longer under treatment for almost 2 weeks a lot I fatigue , red itchy eyes , red spots and itchiness all over my body I contacted my doctor he said we must wait for the new delivery of this product , I hope you could help me contacting the laboratory for more information !
    Thank you
    God bless you all

    January 23, 2016 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
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