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April 18, 2014

FDA Approves Ragwitek... Ragweed Allergy Tablet by Mouth (Instead of Allergy Shots)

The FDA formally approved Ragwitek, the third new sublingual allergy tablet to be sold in the United States this year that works the same way allergy shots do... but instead is dissolved under the tongue at home instead of a shot in the arm in a medical office. Ragwitek is the first sublingual allergy tablet to treat ragweed. Although Oralair and Grastek are two other sublingual tablets that have already been approved by the FDA, they treat grass allergies rather than ragweed.

Ragwitek is a tablet made by Merck and treats patients aged 18-65 years who are allergic to only short ragweed. Ragwitek has a simple regimen of 1 sublingual tablet daily starting 12 weeks before the ragweed season and continued until the end of the ragweed pollen season. As with Oralair and Grastek, the first dose is given in a medical office to ensure safety with all other doses are taken at home. The tablet dissolves in less than 10 seconds.

Although in next few weeks US physicians should be able to start prescribing Ragwitek, treatment needs to actually begin in early summer thru the fall for full effectiveness.

As with Oralair and Grastek, epipen needs to be available at home due to possible risk of anaphylaxis. As with allergy shots, patients on beta-blockers for high blood pressure are not eligible to undergo this treatment.

The wholesale price of both Grastek and Ragwitek will be $8.25 per pill, or $247.50 for a 30-day supply. The wholesale price of Oralair will be $10 per pill, or $300 for a 30-day supply.

Sources:
FDA approves Ragwitek for short ragweed pollen allergies. FDA 4/17/14
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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