The current role of sublingual immunotherapy in the treatment of allergic rhinitis in adults and children.

Allergy/Pulmonary rehabilitation, Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento, Milan, Italy;
Journal of Asthma and Allergy 01/2011; 4:13-7. DOI: 10.2147/JAA.S16632
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Allergic rhinitis is a very common disease affecting about 20% of people. It may be treated by allergen avoidance when possible, by antiallergic drugs such as antihistamines and topical corticosteroids, and by allergen-specific immunotherapy. The latter is the only treatment able to act on the causes and not only on the symptoms of respiratory allergy and is able to maintain its efficacy even after stopping, provided an adequate duration of treatment of 3-5 years is ensured. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) was introduced in the 1990s as a possible solution to the problem of adverse systemic reactions to subcutaneous immunotherapy and has been demonstrated by more than 50 trials and globally evaluated thus far by five meta-analyses as an effective and safe treatment for allergic rhinitis. Life-threatening reactions are extremely rare. However, it is important to note that clinical efficacy occurs only if SLIT meets its needs, ie, sufficiently high doses are regularly administered for at least 3 consecutive years. This is often overlooked in the current practice and may prevent the same success reported by trials from being achieved.

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    ABSTRACT: Effective allergy immunotherapy (IT) requires patient compliance. Numerous studies have shown high noncompliance rates in patients undergoing IT. For patients enrolled in subcutaneous IT (SCIT), noncompliance rates were noted to range from 11% to 50%, whereas sublingual IT (SLIT) patients had noncompliance rates ranging from 3% to 25%. Comparing noncompliance rates is difficult because noncompliance in SCIT is defined as withdrawal from therapy, whereas in SLIT it is considered poor adherence to daily administration. The aim of this study was to compare attrition rates in patients enrolled in SCIT vs SLIT, as well as major factors leading to termination of IT. We retrospectively compared attrition rates, IT duration, and reasons for termination between patients enrolled in SCIT (n = 139) and SLIT (n = 78), over a 4-year period. Attrition rates for SCIT and SLIT were 45% and 41%, respectively (p = 0.669). No significant difference in duration of IT was observed between the groups (≤1 month, p = 0.079; 1-2 months, p = 0.486; 2-3 months, p = 0.165; 3-6 months, p = 0.575; 6-12 months, p = 0.361; 12-24 months, p = 1.000; and ≥24 months, p = 0.258). Among reasons cited for discontinuing IT, SCIT patients reported inconvenience (p = 0.001), whereas SLIT patients indicated efficacy concerns (p = 0.022) as the major basis for withdrawal. No significant difference was observed in attrition rates between SCIT and SLIT. While there was no significant difference in duration of IT prior to withdrawal, there was a trend toward earlier withdrawal in SCIT patients. The reasons for withdrawal, however, were considerably different between the 2 groups.
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