New Findings of the Benefits of Allergy Immunotherapy Show Implications for the U.S. Healthcare System

Research presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology shows that allergy immunotherapy can significantly reduce the use of outpatient services for chronic diseases of the upper respiratory tract within the first 6 months of treatment initiation.

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“Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects approximately one in five Americans, and is associated with substantial clinical and economic burden,” said AAAAI President Linda Cox, MD, FAAAAI.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) March 02, 2014

It is well known that allergy immunotherapy, generally referred to in the U.S. as allergy shots and expected to soon include sublingual tablets, is the only currently available treatment that can offer allergy sufferers lasting remission of their allergy symptoms, prevent the development of new allergies and asthma, and reduce the severity of existing asthma. Now, research presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reveals new benefits—allergy immunotherapy can significantly reduce the use of outpatient services for chronic diseases of the upper respiratory tract within the first 6 months of treatment initiation.

“Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects approximately one in five Americans, and is associated with substantial clinical and economic burden,” said AAAAI President Linda Cox, MD, FAAAAI, and a co-author of the study. “A large body of research demonstrates the important clinical benefits that allergy immunotherapy offers to patients with allergic rhinitis who are appropriate for treatment.”

“These new findings from our continuing research suggest that the benefits of allergy immunotherapy extend far beyond the patient, to include our U.S. healthcare system,” said Cheryl Hankin, PhD, principal investigator of the study and president and chief scientific officer of BioMedEcon, LLC. “In an era of healthcare cost containment, our results suggest that health systems could significantly and quickly reduce the burden of outpatient care for chronic diseases of the upper respiratory tract by appropriately identifying and treating patients with allergic rhinitis.”

Among 4,967 patients with newly diagnosed allergic rhinitis who received allergy immunotherapy, investigators examined changes in the number of patients using outpatient services for chronic diseases of the upper respiratory tract. They looked at changes in the six, 12, and 18 months before versus after allergy immunotherapy initiation. Similar analysis was conducted for the 4,967 matched controls with newly diagnosed allergic rhinitis who did not receive allergy immunotherapy to determine whether there were significant differences in the number of patients using these services between the allergy immunotherapy and control groups.

Compared to matched controls, significantly fewer patients who received allergy immunotherapy used outpatient services in the six, 12, and 18 month periods after versus before treatment for the following chronic diseases of the upper respiratory tract: chronic pharyngitis and nasopharyngitis, chronic sinusitis, and chronic diseases of the tonsils and adenoids. In addition, significantly fewer treated patients used outpatient services for influenza in the six, 12, and 18 month periods post- versus pre-treatment.

“The next step is to examine pre-treatment versus post-treatment changes in outpatient costs, and changes in the frequency and costs for inpatient, pharmacy, and emergency room treatment of targeted conditions,” said Dr. Hankin.

This pioneering research conducted by Drs. Hankin, Cox, and colleagues expands upon findings from a series of previously published studies. A 7-year analysis showed significantly reduced healthcare use and costs in the 6 months after versus before children with allergic rhinitis began allergy immunotherapy. A subsequent 10-year study compared healthcare costs between children with newly diagnosed allergic rhinitis who subsequently received allergy immunotherapy to matched controls with allergic rhinitis who did not receive allergy immunotherapy. Compared to controls, treated children incurred significantly lower healthcare costs (overall, outpatient, and pharmacy costs) within the first 3 months of treatment initiation. These benefits persisted throughout the 18 month duration of the study.

Their most recently published research examined 12 years of Florida Medicaid data and found that the treatment-related cost benefits previously reported for children with allergic rhinitis also extended to adults. Compared to matched controls with allergic rhinitis who did not receive allergy immunotherapy, adults and children who received allergy immunotherapy achieved significantly greater healthcare cost savings (30% and 42%, respectively) within the first 3 months of treatment initiation and throughout the 18-month duration of the analysis.

More information about allergy immunotherapy and allergic rhinitis is available from the AAAAI website at http://www.aaaai.org. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently published a review of allergy immunotherapy and concluded that it is safe and effective for treating nasal allergies and mild asthma in adults and children.

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,700 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

Editor's notes:

  • This study was presented during the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) on February 28-March 4 in San Diego. However, they do not necessarily reflect the policies or the opinions of the AAAAI.
  • A link to all abstracts presented at the Annual Meeting is available at http://www.annualmeeting.aaaai.org


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