Published Feb. 5, 2014
Canada has approved its second under-the-tongue tablet for treating grass allergy.
Known as Grastek, the tablet is an example of an exciting new therapy for seasonal allergies known as sublingual immunotherapy. Like regular immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots), sublingual immunotherapy works by introducing tiny, then increasing amounts of the allergen into the body, with the hopes of inducing tolerance or at least lessening the severity of symptoms.
But instead of the invasive regimen of injections required in traditional immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy works by putting a drop or tablet under the tongue every day. This is naturally a far more convenient method, as the tablets can simply be taken at home and don’t require medical supervision.
This represents the second such tablet to be approved in Canada, following the late 2012 approval of Oralair, also for grass allergy. Such drugs have been available in Europe for years, but only recently have reached North America.
So far in the United States, no sublingual tablets have been officially approved, though they can be prescribed “off-label” by allergists. However, in late 2013 an FDA advisory committee announced that it supported approval of both Oralair and Grastek, suggesting that these products may soon be available in the United States.
See also: Under the Tongue Drops for Grass Allergy