Doctors testing new allergy treatment

- The warm weather and a wet spring is giving way to may misery like itchy eyes, and runny noses.

None of the usual meds even make a dent in the spring torture Deborah Gorth endures.

"I felt like I was sick for three months out to the year," she explained.

Worse yet, Deborah developed severe allergies just five or six years ago and still, she's tried to keep up with her long-range biking trips and love of everything outdoors. But, the allergies were winning

"And it took a few years before I realized, I need to do something," she said.

Eye drops and ear drops just weren't cutting it for her. They were ineffective.

The a doctor showed her something different: allergy drops.

"It's a treatment option that not only treats the symptoms for allergies but also addresses the cause.," explained Dr. Gurston Nyquist.

You may think it's the same thing as the allergy shots that have been around forever right? Not quite.

"The effectiveness of both are about the same," Dr. Nyquist explained, "There's been no anaphylactic reaction with the drops, which is a life-threatening potential side-effect, that's why the shots are done on the office."

Then you wait about 30 minutes, says Dr. Nyquist, an ENT, before you're allowed to leave and follow that routine every week when you're first starting treatment.

Why didn't Deborah elect to take the shots like everyone else?

"It was just too hard to get to the doctor's office every other week and I live pretty close by, I have a really busy schedule and I didn't think I could make that work for me," she explained.

That's why Deborah says she jumped at a chance to take part in a clinical trial at Jefferson University Hospital, where she is a Ph.D. student.

"The nice thing about the drops is you can do it in the comfort of your home," Dr. Nyquist said.

You get your own bottle of drops, and take it on your own schedule, with no weekly doctor's visit.

"We show them how to do it in the office the first time, make sure they don't have a reaction, make sure they can tolerate it well," Dr. Nyquist added.

So why is a nationwide study necessary, which includes Deborah and dozens more at Jefferson, when the FDA has already approved limited versions of the drops and tablets, and concluded they are safe?

"The FDA has approved the drops for grasses and ragweed, but people like Deborah, who are allergies to everything under the sun, like grasses, trees, weeds, cat and dog they need multiple allergens out in there - so lots of testing needs to be done before the FDA will approve it," Dr. Nyquist explained.

Testing will also,  be required before insurance will cover it.

For Debora, about 9 months later...

"I'm fine," she began, "Like every once in a while but totally different from the constant runy nose, constant sneezing that I had before."

"I don't think it's going to replace the shots because a lot of patients do better with the shots in terms of staying on the ptah to allergy treatment which can be three to 5 years," Dr. Nyquist explained.

Doctor Nyquist says the clinical trials should be wrapping up soon, with all patients doing well at Jefferson, even children. He says the kids may be tolerating the drops better because they don't hurt, they don't have to see a doctor, and they taste like sugar.

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