Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) or “Allergy Drops”
Until recently, the only way to successfully administer allergy immunotherapy in the United States was by injections (allergy shots) in the office. Oral allergy drops or sublingual immunotherapy is now being offered by many allergists in the United States and is an injection-free procedure that offers patients the freedom to treat their allergies conveniently in their own home.
What are some advantages of sublingual immunotherapy compared to traditional allergy injections?
There are numerous advantages of sublingual immunotherapy:
- Main Advantage: No Needles! No Injections! No Shots!
- Much less risk of systemic anaphylactic reaction, so that sublingual immunotherapy can be administered at home.
- Time Savings: Treatment is administered once a day at home in a matter of minutes, eliminating the need for travel and wait time in the doctor’s office, and the mandatory 30 minute post injection observation period that is required after allergy injections.
- For patients living a great distance from the office or for patients who travel frequently, sublingual immunotherapy offers the only way they can get immunotherapy.
- For working people (including full time moms) with very busy schedules, for children who cannot miss school or sports, for professionals who cannot miss work , and for anyone who just does not have the time to go sit in the office every week, this is the solution.
What are the disadvantages of SLIT?
There are several distinct disadvantages of sublingual immunotherapy:
- FDA “Off Label Use”: Although sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has been used by allergists in Europe for many years and currently accounts for more than half of all immunotherapy administered in the European Union countries, it is still considered “investigational” and “off-label” in the United States, and currently does not have FDA approval.
- Financial: Since it is Off Label, most health insurance plans refuse to cover sublingual immunotherapy. Therefore the cost of allergy vaccine is the responsibility of the patient. So each patient needs to evaluate if for an equally effective treatment, the above mentioned advantages in terms of money value of time, convenience and the needle prick factor are worth the expense.
- Additionally, since it is a medically prescribed treatment for an illness the cost may be tax deductible under medical expenses and /or in a Health Savings Account (please double check this with your tax advisor).