Oralair, from GREER Laboratories, which is indicated for grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis confirmed by positive skin test or in vitro testing for grass pollen-specific immunoglobulin E antibodies for any of five grass species (Sweet Vernal, Orchard, Perennial Rye, Timothy, and Kentucky Blue grasses), received FDA approval on April 1 of this year. Two weeks later, the FDA approved Merck’s Grastek, which treats those allergic to Timothy grass. And, just three days later, the FDA gave the go-ahead to Merck’s Ragwitek, a treatment for ragweed allergies.
These three medications are the first FDA-approved allergy treatments to be administered sublingually to help desensitize a patient to a particular allergen or group of allergens. In the U.S., an estimated 7.5 million people are allergic to Timothy and other grass pollens, while approximately 4.5 million people are allergic to short ragweed pollen.
How They Work
“This is a revolutionary change in the way the patient undergoes desensitization to allergens by providing immunotherapy, yet the effects of providing it appear to be essentially the same as injection therapy,” said Bradley Marple, MD, professor and vice chairman of the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and an associate dean for graduate medical education at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Dr. Marple is also a member of ENTtoday’s editorial advisory board.