On Sunday, September 28, 2014, I had the honor of joining Dr. Jerry Block as a guest on his radio show “All Things Medical.” Dr. Block is a holistic medical doctor who practices in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to being extremely articulate, he demonstrates an excellent grasp of the issues regarding allergy testing and treatment. Below I recap two of the topics we discussed.
Sublingual Allergy Immunotherapy
Dr. Block raised the topic of the FDA-approved sublingual tablet for grass and ragweed allergy. He asked how I felt about the FDA decision and how the tablets compared to the drops prescribed with the AllerVision program, and wondered if the therapy represented competition for AllerVision. I responded that I am very glad that the FDA approved the “big pharma” sublingual tablets because their official acceptance validates the efficacy of the sublingual route for allergy immunotherapy. However, I feel the drug companies’ therapies suffer from a number of drawbacks compared to the sublingual drops provided through the AllerVision program.
The first drawback and concern for me is that the products — Orlair, Grazax and Ragwitek — all come at a single high potency dose. This is problematic for highly allergic patients who may not be able to tolerate such a high dose. Allergy immunotherapy has always been accomplished in a multi-step desensitization whereby initial low doses are increased slowly and carefully to eventually achieve high dose protection. The AllerVision program of allergy drops follows this protocol. Secondly, the drug company products each address a single allergen: grass or ragweed. There are numerous other allergens: dust mites, tree pollens, pet dander and molds that are not addressed with the pharma tablets. The AllerVision program incorporates a customized combination of allergens in mixes of categories specific to each patient. Customized combination therapy is not only the way treatment has always been carried out by allergists, it is the most convenient and economical to treat the entire spectrum of the patient’s allergic syndrome. The drug company products will cost a patient roughly $8 per tablet compared to $2 per day for drops on the AllerVision program…big difference!
Why are there so many people allergic today?
One of Dr Block’s big concerns was why it seems there are so many more children today with food and environmental allergies. My answer to him explained “The Hygiene Hypothesis,” which is espoused by epidemiological experts. At its core, it states that allergic diseases have flourished because of the overuse of antibiotics, vaccines and aggressive (even obsessive) sanitization efforts. At first this sounds crazy — we know that proper infection control is incredibly important; how can we be TOO CLEAN? But our increased understanding of the human microbiome points to the theory that excessive medical intervention has decreased infants’ exposure to good bacteria which, in turn, has unleashed an increase in allergies and autoimmune diseases. In fact, a key study this spring published in a major allergy journal found that infants treated with multiple courses of antibiotics before the age of two were much more likely to develop asthma than children who didn’t receive antibiotics!
I was impressed with Dr. Block’s knowledge of allergy and his interest in providing the best allergy testing and treatment for his patients. I reminded his listeners that AllerVision supports providers all over the United States offering affordable and effective sublingual allergy treatment!