The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is sounding the alarm that proposed changes to regulations governing allergy shots “could dramatically limit patient access to allergen immunotherapy.”
AAAAI, the world’s leading allergist organization, has launched a petition at Change.org, that is gathering thousands of supporters opposed to the changes. The call to action of the campaign says this: “Help the AAAAI save patient access to allergy shots. Sign this petition to let United States Pharmacopeia know they should keep the existing requirements in place.”
Allergist and AAAAI fellow Dr. Andrew Murphy told Allergic Living by email that the changes, which are proposed by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), are unnecessary, and the reason given for the proposal – to reduce the risk of infection when patients are receiving allergy shots – isn’t backed up by medical evidence.
“For over 100 years, allergists have been compounding allergen extracts in their practices and there has never been a report of an infectious complication,” wrote Murphy, who’s been working behind the scenes to raise awareness about the consequences of USP’s proposals.
“These proposed new rules are incredibly onerous and probably will be cost prohibitive for AAAAI physicians to undertake,” he said. “The consequence of this is that physicians will have none to very limited options for getting allergen extract.”
And while the risk of allergy shots no longer being available at all in allergists’ offices is the prime consequence Murphy points to, he also drew attention to the details of the USP’s proposed changes, and how they might affect patients’ treatment regimens:
“The USP is proposing shorter expiration dates for allergen extracts,” he noted. “What does this mean? More allergy shots, more cost, less chance of reaching an effective dose, and increased risk of the patient for allergic reaction to allergy shots.”
Murphy also said the benefits of allergy shots as a treatment go well beyond symptom relief, helping prevent further allergies and even asthma in some patients, in addition to helping reduce costs.
“Allergy shots can prevent the development of more allergies and in the right patient can prevent the development of asthma,” Murphy wrote. “Importantly, data from a study done in Florida demonstrated that appropriate treatment with allergen immunotherapy resulted in significant decreases in health-care costs for patients.” Murphy says that USP has not provided any clear reasons as to why this proposed change is needed.
So what can people do to support the AAAAI’s position on protecting easy access to allergy shots? Murphy says the best step right now is to sign the AAAAI petition calling for the group to leave the regulations as is.
“The bottom line,” Murphy concluded, ” is that the changes proposed by USP will profoundly and negatively impact allergy care in the U.S. These changes are not justified, and will ultimately harm patients.”