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Allergy Drops: Cost & Benefits

Learn about allergy drops as an alternative to allergy shots.
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Allergy Drops Under the Tongue

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), also known as allergy drops, is a form of allergy treatment that involves placing a small amount of allergen extract under the tongue. This is done because the tissue under the tongue is very absorbent, allowing the allergens to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.This direct absorption is more effective than oral administration, skipping the digestive system where allergens may break down and lose their potency, making it ineffective.

SLIT is a safe, effective, and convenient treatment for a variety of allergies, including allergic rhinitis (hay fever), conjunctivitis (eye allergy), and asthma. It is a good option for people who:

1

want to address the source of their allergies and get healthier;

2

consider allergy shots inconvenient;

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3

want a natural treatment option that trains their body to fight against allergies.

How Often Do You Take Allergy Drops?

The frequency of allergy drop administration depends on several factors, including the severity of your allergies, the type of allergen extract you are receiving, and your doctor's recommendations. Typically, allergy drops are taken daily. Some more diluted doses of allergies are taken 3 times per day.  Your doctor will prescribe you a specific protocol that is likely to be most effective for you.  Like with most medications, it’s important to follow prescription.

Allergy Drops vs. Shots

Allergy shots and allergy drops are both forms of immunotherapy, which means they work by gradually exposing the body to small amounts of allergens to build tolerance. However, there are some key differences between the two treatments.

Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), involve injecting allergen extract into the skin. This is typically done once or twice a week, and the dosage is gradually increased over time. On the other hand, allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), involve placing a small amount of the same allergen extract under the tongue. These drops are typically taken daily, with the dosage adjusted as needed.  Allergy drops can contain as much as 30x of active ingredients as allergy shots.

Here is a table summarizing the key differences between allergy shots and allergy drops:

At-home treatment
Access to clinician via text/call/zoom
Non-invasive application?
No Scary Needles
No Time Away From School
No More Commutes to the Allergist
Time spent per year
Price

Curex

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Less than 2 hours
$59/month
+ copay

Allergy Shots

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Over 52 hours
$2,000 - $5,000

Allergy Drops Cost

Allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), have traditionally been a more costly treatment. This is due to several factors, including the expense of FDA-approved allergenic extracts, the need for precise dosing, and a significantly higher dosage of the extract used in allergy drops compared to allergy shots. Allergy drops can contain as much as 30 times the allergenic extract of shots, making them cost-prohibitive for many allergist offices and clinics.

Fortunately, the emergence of scaled high-efficiency compounding pharmacies, in partnership with specialist telemedicine providers like Curex, is paving the way for more affordable allergy drops in the US. These pharmacies can produce SLIT orders for thousands of patients per day in a standardized manner, significantly reducing the cost per dose. Additionally, they can leverage economies of scale to purchase allergen extracts in bulk, further driving down costs. These advancements are making allergy drops a more accessible treatment option for people with allergies, particularly those who cannot afford allergy shots, which are traditionally even more expensive than SLIT. Allergy drops with Curex cost $49/month + copay for clinical consultations with Curex clinicians.

Does Insurance Pay for Allergy Drops?

Insurance coverage for allergy drops varies depending on your specific plan. Traditionally, insurance plans cover immunotherapy administered through injections at the doctor's office. However, allergy drops are considered a pharmacy product, and may not be covered due to Stark Law, which restricts financial arrangements between doctors and pharmacies.

However, some insurance plans are partnering with specialized pharmacies to offer coverage for allergy drops. For instance, Curex has partnered with a pharmacy that has contracts with the U.S. Navy, Mayo Clinic, and several large employer insurance plans. Curex is also actively engaged in discussions with major pharmacy plans to expand coverage for allergy drops.

While broader insurance coverage may take time, Curex currently accepts every major insurance plan to cover clinical consultations and allergy testing fees, which account for approximately half of the cost of allergy immunotherapy. This allows Curex to offer starting prices as low as $59/month for allergy drops.

Are Allergy Drops FDA Approved?

The FDA has approved four single-allergy immunotherapy tablets for sublingual administration: Odactra, Grastek, Ragwitek and Oralair. These tablets have proven both effective and safe, making the sublingual method a viable treatment option. Interestingly, in the EU, especially in France, allergy drops are the primary form of allergy immunotherapy.

Name

Treats

Approval Year

Oralair

Grass Pollen

2014

Grastek

Timothy grass

2017

Ragwitek

Ragweed

2018

Odactra

Dust mite

2022

The FDA maintains the highest global standards for pharmaceutical approval, ensuring the safety and efficacy of approved treatments. However, conducting double-blind clinical studies on allergy drops or allergy shots targeting multiple allergies proves challenging due to the inherent variability among patients' allergy profiles. Take Sam and Kate, for example; their sets of allergies could significantly differ, requiring distinct treatment mixes.  Introducing this variability into clinical studies would complicate data interpretation.

As a result, no clinical studies have yet been conducted on allergy drops or allergy shots for multiple allergies. In the US, allergy immunotherapy typically involves treating patients for multiple allergies, requiring doctors to rely on their expertise and established guidelines when prescribing treatments.

While the FDA has not yet reviewed clinical studies for drops or shots with multiple allergies, allergy shots have been "grandfathered in" due to their widespread use since the 1920s and their well-established safety and efficacy. On the other hand, allergy drops, introduced in the 1990s and despite being administered to millions of patients worldwide, remain unapproved by the FDA. This means that when doctors prescribe allergy drops, they do so off-label. While this practice is legal and common, pharmaceutical companies are restricted in marketing their allergenic extracts for use in allergy drops due to the lack of FDA approval.

Allergy Drops Side Effects

Sublingual immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy drops, is a widely acknowledged safe and effective treatment for allergies. Nonetheless, as with any medical treatment, it may come with potential side effects. The most frequent side effects are minor and short-lived, often presenting as irritation in the mouth or throat. Less commonly, individuals might experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea or vomiting, oral swelling, eye irritation, or discomfort in the ears, typically resolving within a few weeks. Continuation of traditional allergy medications like Claritin may be advised by healthcare providers to limit such side effects.

Severe reactions like anaphylaxis or eosinophilic esophagitis are exceedingly rare, with occurrences less than 0.03%. Allergy drops are often favored over injections due to their more gradual dosing and the body's ability to adapt over time. This is especially beneficial for those who have had negative reactions to allergy shots. It's crucial to maintain open communication with healthcare professionals to identify potential risks and ensure a safe and effective treatment plan.

Allergy Immunotherapy

Allergy Drugs

Natural Ingredients?

Long-Term Relief?

Immediate Results?

Side effects

Rare and mild

Drowsiness, dementia, weight gain, etc.

Potency over time

Improves

Diminishes

Personalized

Doctor-Approved

Do Allergy Drops Really Work?

Allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), are an effective treatment for allergies. By gradually exposing the body to small amounts of an allergen, they aid in building up tolerance and reducing allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion.

Studies show that allergy drops are successful in treating various allergies, including allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergy), eczema and asthma. They're a good option for those unable to take allergy shots or prefer a more convenient and less invasive treatment.

Allergy drops typically take several months to kick in, and the full benefits may not be seen for up to a year. Nevertheless, most people experience symptom improvement within a few months of starting treatment.  The effectiveness of allergy drops varies depending on the individual and the type of allergy being treated. However, studies have shown that they prove effective in up to 80% of people who use them.

How Long Does it Take for Allergy Drops to Start Working?

It typically takes several months for allergy drops to take effect, and the complete benefits may not be seen for up to a year. However, most people experience improvement in their symptoms within 3-6 months of starting treatment. Over 80% experience significant reduction in symptoms and medicine taken after 1 year.

Can You Get Allergy Drops Over the Counter?

No, allergy drops are not available over the counter. They are prescription medications that must be dispensed by a doctor or pharmacist. This is because allergy drops require careful dosing and monitoring to ensure their safety and effectiveness. While there are homeopathic allergy drops available at certain retail stores, typically costing about $5-10 per bottle (some may charge more), these bottles lack relevant active ingredients and evidence of efficacy.

Can I Get Allergy Drops Near Me?

Allergy drops can be dispensed by an allergy doctor that specializes in allergy immunotherapy and allergy drops.  Several pharmacies may be able to ship you an order of allergy drops, but they require a prescription. Curex offers an affordable option at just $49/month.  You can start a Free Quiz with Curex, receive a prescription from a Curex allergy clinician online, and have your allergy drops mailed to you.

Allergy Drops For Dog Allergies

Allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy drops, can be used to treat dog allergies. This treatment works by gradually exposing the immune system to small, controlled doses of dog allergens, which helps the body to develop tolerance.

Allergy drops are considered to be one of the safest and most effective long-term treatments for dog allergies. They are reported to be successful in approximately 80% of patients.

Unlike traditional allergy medications, which only alleviate the symptoms of allergies, allergy drops can help the body to overcome its allergic response to dogs. Immunotherapy, including sublingual allergy drops, targets the source of pet allergies.

With regular use, allergy drops can provide long-term relief from dog allergies and reduce the risk of developing asthma.

Allergy Drops For Cat Allergies

Sublingual immunotherapy, commonly referred to as allergy drops, offers a therapeutic approach for managing cat allergies. By introducing incremental doses of cat allergens beneath the tongue, this method aims to boost the immune system's tolerance.

Recognized for its safety and efficacy, sublingual immunotherapy is an established long-term solution, boasting a success rate of about 80% in individuals.

This therapy goes beyond the scope of conventional allergy medications that typically alleviate only allergy symptoms. Instead, it assists in enabling the body to build resistance to the allergens specific to cats. Through targeting the underlying cause of pet allergies, it promises enduring relief and a potential decrease in asthma-related risks through consistent application.

Can You Treat Allergic Conjunctivitis With Allergy Drops?

Yes, allergy drops can be used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. Over-the-counter and prescription anti-allergy eye drops are commonly used to relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, such as red, itchy eyes. These eye drops may contain medications such as antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers, which help to control allergic reactions.

Sublingual allergy immunotherapy drops can also be used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. Immunotherapy is a longer-term treatment that works by helping the body build immunity to allergens. This prevents the immune system from overreacting to allergens and causing symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.

Do Allergy Drops Treat Food Allergies?

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a method of treating food allergies by placing a small amount of liquid containing food allergens under the tongue for several minutes. This exposure is thought to help the body develop tolerance to the food by introducing undigested allergens to cells in the mouth lining.

Allergy drops can be effective for a variety of food allergies, including kiwi, peanut, hazelnut, milk, and peach. However, it is less commonly used than treatments for airborne allergies, and less research has been done on its effectiveness compared to oral immunotherapy (OIT).

In the United States, SLIT is not yet officially approved for food allergies, but research is ongoing. The FDA has approved Palforzia, an OIT tablet for peanut allergies. However, Palforzia is only approved for administration in a doctor's office because the dosage is relatively high and allergic reactions are common.

In contrast, there is some evidence that SLIT for food allergies may be safer and provide a more gradual build-up of tolerance than OIT. However, it also takes longer to work: typically 18-24 months compared to 9 months for OIT.

Allergy Drops Reviews

Customers generally find allergy drops to be convenient, easy to use, and portable. The treatment typically involves a build-up phase followed by a maintenance phase. While some people may experience mild side effects, these are typically temporary and mild in nature.

Most customers start to see benefits within 3-6 months of starting treatment. They continue to work with their allergist to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment over time.

FAQs

What is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), or allergy drops?
How often do I need to take allergy drops?
How do allergy drops compare to allergy shots?
What is the cost of allergy drops?
Does insurance cover allergy drops?
Are allergy drops FDA approved?
What are the side effects of allergy drops?
How long does it take for allergy drops to work?
What do customers say about allergy drops?

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