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Seasonal allergy treatments Grastek, Ragwitek approved by FDA

The FDA-approved oral medications Grastek, left, and Ragwitek

The FDA-approved oral medications Grastek, left, and Ragwitek both treat seasonal allergens.

As allergy season rages on, two new oral allergy medications were approved this April by the FDA. Grastek and Ragwitek, much like Oralair, offer allergy patients a new alternative to the traditional allergy shot treatments.

Less invasive than injections beneath the skin, these medications (taken under the tongue) are a new leg of what’s called “immunotherapy,” which works by building up an immunity to your trigger allergens.

While Grastek and Oralair both treat grass allergens, Dr. Stanley Goldstein, an allergist on Long Island, explained that there are some differences between the two.

“The main difference is the age indications,” he said. “Grastek is approved from 5 up until age 65, whereas Oralair is approved from 10 and above.”

Another key difference is timeframe. Goldstein said a Grastek regimen needs to be implemented 12 weeks prior to grass season, according to clinical studies. But for Oralair, the period is four months.

The good news for those suffering from ragweed allergies is that it isn’t too late to start treatment. The ragweed allergen season begins in this area in mid-August, so there’s still time to start taking Ragwitek at least 12 weeks before the season.

Goldstein said patients who suffer from ragweed allergies should talk to their allergists about starting treatment.

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Like Oralair, the first dose of both Grastek and Ragwitek need to be supervised by an allergist or physician who is familiar with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis in case of adverse reactions.

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