What is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), also known as allergy drops?
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a form of immunotherapy that involves putting drops of allergen extracts under the tongue. Many people refer to this process as “allergy drops,” and it is an alternative treatment for allergy shots. This form of immunotherapy has been used for years in Europe, and recently has had increased interest in the United States. However, it is currently not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.
Why is SLIT not yet FDA approved?
Multiple studies are currently being conducted for the purpose of trying to get SLIT approved in the United States, but is it likely that approval is at least a few years away. However, the extracts that are used in preparing SLIT are the same extracts that are used in skin testing and in traditional Allergy Shots. These extracts are approved and monitored by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and approved for Allergy Shots, but not specifically for use under the tongue. Therefore, Allergy Drops are considered an “off-label” use of the FDA-approved allergen extracts.
How is SLIT taken?
Allergy Drops are self-administered, at home, under the tongue. (For young children, parents should administer the drops.) They are provided in a dropper-vial, which you hold up to your mouth and squeeze so that the drops “land” under the tongue. The liquid is held under the tongue for approximately 2 minutes before being swallowed. Applying the drops takes only a few seconds, and the entire procedure takes a little more than a minute.
Benefits of SLIT Therapy
Unlike allergy shots that require a trip into the doctor’s office weekly, SLIT therapy is administered by the patient at home daily. This is a good alternative especially for children with allergies who may also fear needles. The cost of SLIT can be quite competitive to traditional allergy shots. This is because there is no travel time or wait time in the office (30 minutes minimum) associated with SLIT, unlike with allergy shots, and no co-pays or deductibles apply. It is possible that the costs of SLIT could be covered by a Health Savings Account (HSA) associated with your insurance; however, you are solely responsible for determining if your HSA plan will cover your SLIT costs.
How do I know which therapy is right for me or my family?
There is no “one-size fits all” therapy, and what works for one person with allergies may not work for another. Whether you choose to manage your allergies with avoidance of your triggers, a wide variety of allergy medications, or traditional allergy shots or SLIT, we will work with you to develop a treatment regimen that is right for you.