The drug maker Merck & Co. announced that the FDA is reviewing its application to market and sell a new type of immunotherapy treatment that will help sufferers of grass pollen allergies without the need for uncomfortable injections. The medication is a tablet that is dissolved under the tongue, and relieves symptoms over time, instead of temporarily as allergy medications do.
If approved, the tablet could be the first alternative to allergy shots available in the United States. Like the shots, the tablets work by slowly desensitizing the patient’s immune system to grass pollen, which trigger an allergic reaction. The tablet would be taken daily through allergy seasons over three years.
In clinical trials that included 3,500 adults and children, the drug was found to be both safe and effective. Symptoms that improved over the course of the treatment included runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion.
In addition, Merck has also applied to have the FDA review a immunotherapy tablet for ragweed pollen, but it has not been accepted for review at this time. Merck is most commonly known for their medications Singulair, Clarinex and Nasonex.