Allergies are one of the leading causes of chronic illness in the U.S., affecting as many as 60 million people each year. Sandi Kiehl is one of them, as her vial of drops is a form of immunotherapy to help her tolerate environmental allergens, like mold and pollen.
“Especially in the fall, with all the dead leaves and everything, I would be wheezing and have shortness of breath and watery eyes,” Kiehl said.
Many people have experienced allergies to pets, food or pollen receiving allergy shots for treatment. But For Sandi, a few drops under the tongue are far easier than weekly injections at the doctor’s office.
“The drops have been really effective,” Kiehl said. “I love that I can just do it here at home. The cost is very reasonable for me, and yeah, I’m just thrilled.”
New research from the University of Missouri shows drop therapy may be more cost-effective for the U.S. health care system, too.
“The idea actually came from one of our billers here,” said Christine Franzese, MD, an ear, nose and throat doctor at MU Health Care who specializes in allergy and sinus diseases.
Franzese and her colleagues looked at both drop and shot therapy to comparing how well patients stuck with the treatments, the success rate and the cost to health insurance providers.
“This compares these therapies, which are very close in their efficacy, and says, all right, well, they both work pretty well, and both of them have grade A evidence, and one is cheaper than the other,” said Franzese.
In most cases, the study found drops to be the clear winner.
“One of the reasons we did this study was to try to show that there’s a lot of conditions where you can do the drops, and they help a lot of people, and they can save our system potentially a lot of money.”
Insurance companies don’t always cover allergy drops, but Dr. Franzese hopes the research will encourage more of them to do so.