US OKs 1st hay fever allergy immunotherapy tablet

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first tablet for gradually reducing hay fever allergy symptoms, an alternative to uncomfortable allergy-desensitizing shots.

Oralair, a tablet that dissolves quickly under the tongue, is approved for patients aged 10 through 65. It’s to be taken daily starting four months before grass pollen season to reduce allergic reactions to five grass types.

In patient testing, it reduced symptoms and need for medications by up to 30 percent, compared with dummy pills. Common side effects include throat irritation, mouth swelling and the possibility of severe allergic reactions.

Oralair is made by France’s Stallergenes SA.

Meanwhile, U.S.-based drugmaker Merck & Co, expects an FDA ruling by midyear on two immunotherapy tablets, one for ragweed and one for grass pollen allergies.

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