For decades, the standard of care for food allergy was avoid eating that food and, if the allergy was severe, carry an EpiPen to use in case of accidental ingestion.
Dust mites are the small creatures that make many people allergic to dust. They love heat and humidity, so they feel right at home in the Houston area. Since dust mites are such a common cause of allergy in this area, it’s exciting news that a new form of allergen immunotherapy is now available for dust mites. Odactra is the name of a tablet to be placed under the tongue once each day to desensitize an allergic individual to dust mites.
As opposed to allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy tablets (SLIT) have two main advantages:
1. They are designed to be taken at home, so no trips to the doctor’s office just for a shot.
2. No needles – just place the tablet under your tongue for two minutes, then drink water to wash it down (most common side effect of SLIT is itching of mouth and tongue).
On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages of using tablets as compared to allergy shots.
1. Tablets aren’t as effective as allergy shots (although they are clearly “better-than-placebo”).
2. Tablets are more expensive than allergy shots. Pricing is not yet available for Odactra, but similar tablets for ragweed (called Ragwitek) cost about $290/month on GoodRx.com. Coupons are available to reduce the out-of-pocket cost to $25/month, but the maximum value of the coupon maxes out well before you fill your monthly prescription 12 times for the year. This may be ok for ragweed, which is seasonal, but dust mites cause allergy symptoms 24/7/365.
3. Allergy shots can be used in patients of any age, but Odactra is only FDA-approved for ages 18-65. This doesn’t mean it won’t work in younger or older folks, just that insurance won’t cover it.
4. SLIT desensitizes you to only that one allergen. Tablets are now available for ragweed, grass pollen and dust mites. But if you are allergic to dust mites, cats, molds and oak pollen, the tablets won’t treat all your allergy symptoms. If you’re allergic to dust mites, ragweed and grasses, you could treat all three but that would mean three different tablets, at a cost of nearly $900/month.
Although SLIT tablets don’t work as well as allergy shots, they are a good option for allergic patients who cannot or will not take allergy shots due to fear of needles or frequent travel.
No one nose allergies like we do.™
Note: Information contained in this article should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified allergist to address individual medical needs.
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