Millions of allergy sufferers go through immunotherapy, or allergy shots, to help them overcome the symptoms of seasonal allergies. It’s fair to say that no one enjoys the regular needle jabs, but few options exist that provide the same level of results. European allergy sufferers, however, are enjoying the benefits of sublingual immunotherapy, which involves simply placing a drop under the tongue. Will U.S. allergy sufferers have the same option anytime soon?

As the popularity of the drops in Europe, many U.S. patients are requesting the treatments from their providers, but as of yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drops, it can be challenging to find a provider willing to offer the off-label use of the treatment here in the states.

The drops often include things like the extract of ragweed, dust mites and pollen, which are approved for injections. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the drops are also moderately effective in reducing asthma symptoms, with more than 40% of participants in the study seeing improvement in symptoms. Most of those with considerable improvement were children. For allergies, the 9 out of 36 patients saw a considerable improvement in allergies symptoms, such as stuffy noses and itchy eyes. Drops for peanut allergies, which typically do not respond well to injection treatments are underway.

One downfall to the drops is that they can produce an allergic reaction, which most often includes swelling of the lips and cheeks or hives.

The FDA commented that they are unable to confirm if any applications are pending for approval of sublingual immunotherapy. Only time will tell if the treatment becomes readily available in the United States in the future.

What do you think? Would you prefer drops over injections?

Ramie A. Tritt, MD, President of Atlanta ENT