FDA approves new weapon to fight hay fever

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 02 2014 03:29:54 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 02 2014 05:30:00 PM EDT

You will soon have a new weapon to win the battle against hay fever.  The Food and Drug has approved a new tablet that is placed under the tongue and contains a mixture of freeze-dried extracts from the pollens of five grasses.

Cleveland Clinic Allergist Dr. David Lang says the drug is expected to offer the effectiveness of an allergy shot, in tablet form, to the more than 30 million hay fever sufferers in the United States.

"The big advance that has been achieved with this approval is that we now have a more convenient form of allergen immunotherapy to offer patients who are allergic to grass pollen," said Lang.

Grass allergy is the most common seasonal allergy in the U.S. and most people are allergic to more than one type of grass. The new tablet called Oralair is fast-dissolving and contains extracts from five grass pollens, including Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, and orchard.

The first dose is administered at the doctor's office to monitor any potential allergic reactions and additional doses can be taken at home. The daily regimen begins weeks before the peak of the hay fever season in late May.

"It can be administered co-seasonally or it can be administered year-round as we do allergy shots to reduce the level of allergic potential that you have," explained Lang.

Adverse reactions include the potential for throat swelling. It might also cause itching inside the throat or mouth; but Dr. Lang says the medication has been well-tolerated in studies. So, if you're hay fever interferes with your daily activities, talk to your allergist.

"If you typically experience missed work days and missed school days during the grass pollen season because of the intensity of your symptoms this is an opportunity. You should see your allergy specialist," Lang said.

According to the manufacturer, Oralair is approved for use in people ages 10 to 65.  The manufacturer tells Channel 4 the new tablet will be available in the United States in early May.

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