New pill could replace allergy shots for some

New pill could replace allergy shots for some

For 17-year-old high school junior Alexus Rivers, rolling up your sleeve for an allergy shot is just part of life's routine.

Alexus has dealt with allergies and asthma all her life.

"It gets really hard to breathe and usually your throat closes up and you itch everywhere," Rivers said of her attacks.

Alexus has both indoor and outdoor allergies and goes to Dr. Jim Harris' office for shots each week. But now, a new pill called Oralair might replace allergy shots for a lot of people.

According to Dr. Harris, this first pill to replace shots is a major breakthrough.

"It's the first significant development in allergy treatment in 120 years," said the allergist. "We've been giving allergy shots just like we always have for the last 100 years or more and now we're offering a new oral therapy for those who have allergies."

The South Bend Clinic was part of the nationwide study that tested Oralair on its patients.

"The study was done in the course over an entire year," explained Dr. Harris. "They started this therapy, given the treatment in advance of the allergy season and then we saw how they responded during the grass season. The results were very impressive."

While this particular treatment was tested on those allergic to grass pollens, Dr. Harris said immunotherapy once a day at home in pill form is a major breakthrough and will undoubtedly help other allergy sufferers like those suffering from food or pet allergies down the road.

"We're excited to be able to offer this to patients because it's really a great way to treat a problem that's been untreatable before except with allergy shots."

For those with multiple allergies, shots may still be the best option, according to Dr. Harris. For those suffering from just grass and ragweed, though, doctors are excited to be able to offer a pill that can be popped at home.

Oralair will be available in the next month, but it takes about four months to become fully effective, first providing help for fall allergies.