Injections have been used to treat allergies and hay fever for 100 years, and the basic formula has changed little. But an alternative is now emerging — liquids or tablets placed under the tongue, The New York Times
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Merck and Stallergenes, a French company, are seeking marketing approval for tablets to treat grass pollen allergies. An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to discuss the drugs next week.
The drugs are now available in Europe. If they are approved in the United States, they could allow people to treat themselves at home rather than going for frequent shots. Children might also find such needle-free treatment more acceptable.
"It's hugely important," Dr. Linda S. Cox, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told The Times.
An estimated 30 million to 60 million Americans, including up to 40 percent of children and 10 to 30 percent of adults, suffer nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, or other symptoms from allergies.
The typical treatments are antihistamines or nasal steroids. But those drugs merely alleviate symptoms.
Immunotherapy, as allergy shots and under-the-tongue treatments are called, involves giving controlled doses of the allergen to trigger the immune system to tolerate it. That can lead to longer-lasting relief.
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