The FDA has just approved the allergy drug Ragwitek for children ages five to seventeen. Ragwitek has been approved for use in adults 18-65 years since 2014, but this introduces a new and more convenient treatment option for a younger age group. Ragwitek is made by the Denmark-based pharmaceutical company ALK-Abello.
Twenty-three million people suffer from allergies to ragweed pollen in the US. It causes a variety of symptoms.
- Runny nose
- Scratchy throat
- Red, itchy, watery eyes
“Sneezing, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes occur after exposure to pollen in kids because their immune systems have begun making an allergic protein known as IgE antibody that recognizes ragweed,” explains ALK-Abello spokesperson Dr. David I. Bernstein, FAAAAI, FACAAI, FACP, MD, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Bernstein Clinical Research.
“When a pollen protein encounters and binds to the IgE antibody on special cells known as mast cells, histamine and other factors are released from these cells into the nose and eyes,” he continues. “This triggers the familiar seasonal hay fever symptoms.”
Seasonal Allergy Treatment Options
Allergy sufferers have a few options when seeking relief. One common solution is over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription antihistamines. An antihistamine works by blocking the action of histamine in the body.
Another type of allergy medication is corticosteroids which are administered by a nasal spray.
The FDA-approved Ragwitek is a tablet that is taking sublingually, which means it is placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve. It is classified as allergy immunotherapy. It treats the underlying cause of environmental allergies by stimulating a person’s own immune system. By introducing small amounts of allergens to the body, the immune system gradually learns to tolerate them better.
Allergy shots are another type of immunotherapy. Most people aren’t very excited about getting regular injections. The ease of using Ragwitek makes it appealing.
“This sublingual ragweed tablet is for patients with moderate to severe allergy symptoms who have failed to respond adequately to OTC or prescribed allergy medications,” Dr. Bernstein tells Parentology. “It is a specific immune therapy that has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms and the need for medications during the ragweed pollen season.”
“While allergy injections require frequent clinic visits, Ragwitek can be self-administered conveniently at home after the first dose is taken at the doctor’s office.”
Children Who Shouldn’t Take Ragwitek
Dr. Bernstein cautions that certain children should not take Ragwitek.
- A previous severe systemic allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis
- Uncontrolled asthma
- A swallowing disorder known as eosinophilic esophagitis
- Severe local reactions to sublingual allergy tablets
- Any known allergy to any of the ingredients in the tablet product.
Because allergy symptoms are similar to colds and COVID-19, Dr. Bernstein provided guidance on how to differentiate them.
“With nasal allergy, the nasal congestion and runny nose are much more likely to be accompanied by itching of the eyes, nose, and throat. Also, allergy is most likely to correspond when airborne pollen counts are elevated, which in the case of ragweed occurs between mid-August and November.”