Spring has sprung, and for many of us, that means the start of bothersome allergy symptoms. In fact, between 30 and 60 million Americans are affected by environmental allergies each year, making it one of the leading causes of chronic disease in the U.S. Allergies are caused by the body’s immune system overreacting to substances in the environment, causing symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, congestion or sinus pressure.
One of the more common environmental allergy triggers is ragweed pollen. Ragweed plants grow wild in most areas in the U.S. from August through November and produce pollen, a powdery substance made up of grains that help fertilize other ragweed plants. One ragweed plant can release up to one billion pollen grains into the air that can end up in your nose, eyes or mouth, potentially triggering an allergic reaction.
The good news is that if you or your children suffer from certain allergies, like ragweed pollen, there is a treatment option that works differently from allergy medicines like antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays that just treat symptoms once they occur. They can work quickly to relieve bothersome symptoms but don’t address the allergy’s trigger and often cause side effects that can be a problem for some people. That’s where allergy immunotherapy, or AIT, comes in. AIT works with the body naturally to treat the underlying cause of allergies. It trains the immune system gradually to stop attacking allergens, eliminating or significantly reducing symptoms. There are two types of AIT: subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), which are injections administered just under the skin, often called allergy shots; and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), given as a fast-dissolving tablet under the tongue.
“For many years, allergy shots were the only option for AIT. They contain extracts individually mixed by an allergy specialist based on a person’s allergy triggers and are administered in the allergist’s office,”3 said David I. Bernstein, FAAAAI, FACAAI, FACP, MD, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Bernstein Clinical Research, and ALK-Abelló, Inc. spokesperson. “Unfortunately, not everyone has the time for weekly visits to the doctor and some may be hesitant to receive shots. Sublingual immunotherapy tablets are a newer form of AIT to treat certain allergens, including ragweed pollen, that offer a daily, oral option for people suffering from these types of allergens.”
RAGWITEK® (Short Ragweed Pollen Allergen Extract) is an FDA-approved prescription allergy medicine taken daily in the form of a quickly dissolving tablet you place under your tongue. The first dose is taken at the doctor’s office, but then the tablet can be taken at home.3 RAGWITEK can be prescribed to allergy sufferers from the ages of five to 65. RAGWITEK is taken for about 12 weeks before the ragweed pollen allergy season and throughout ragweed allergy season. RAGWITEK is NOT a medication that gives immediate relief for symptoms of ragweed allergy.
Seek an Early Diagnosis
Although ragweed pollen will not appear until late summer, now is the best time to start talking to your allergy specialist about RAGWITEK. Starting treatment early gives your body time to become less sensitive in preparation for the ragweed pollen season helping reduce your symptoms and need for allergy medications. Ragweed pollen season varies regionally, and typically peaks in mid-September in the U.S.
If you or your child suffer from seasonal allergies, now is the time to see an allergy specialist who can usually determine what allergens trigger symptoms during an office visit.
“There are effective and safe treatment options available for people with allergic rhinitis, but the key is to see an allergy specialist for an evaluation and accurate diagnosis,” Dr. Bernstein noted. “An allergist can do simple in-office tests to determine what exactly a person is allergic to and recommend treatment that will be most effective for that individual and fits with their lifestyle and treatment preferences.”
For more information about allergies and one AIT treatment option, visit www.RAGWITEK.com
Important Safety Information for RAGWITEK
RAGWITEK is a prescription medicine used for sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy to treat ragweed pollen allergies that can cause sneezing, runny or itchy nose, stuffy or congested nose, or itchy and watery eyes. RAGWITEK may be prescribed for persons 5 through 65 years of age who are allergic to ragweed pollen.
RAGWITEK is taken for about 12 weeks before the ragweed pollen season and throughout ragweed pollen season.
RAGWITEK is NOT a medication that gives immediate relief for symptoms of ragweed allergy.
Important Safety Information about RAGWITEK
- RAGWITEK can cause severe allergic reactions that may be life-threatening. Stop taking RAGWITEK and get medical treatment right away if you or your child has any of the following symptoms after taking RAGWITEK:
- Trouble breathing
- Throat tightness or swelling
- Trouble swallowing or speaking
- Dizziness or fainting
- Rapid or weak heartbeat
- Severe stomach cramps or pain, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Severe flushing or itching of the skin
- Do not take RAGWITEK if you or your child has severe, unstable or uncontrolled asthma; had a severe allergic reaction in the past that included trouble breathing, dizziness or fainting, or rapid or weak heartbeat; had difficulty with breathing due to swelling of the throat or upper airway after using any sublingual immunotherapy before; has ever been diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis; or is allergic to any of the inactive ingredients contained in RAGWITEK.
- For home administration of RAGWITEK, your doctor will prescribe auto-injectable epinephrine, a medicine you can inject if you or your child has a severe allergic reaction after taking RAGWITEK. Talk to your doctor or read the epinephrine patient information if you have any questions about the use of auto-injectable epinephrine.
- The first dose of RAGWITEK must be taken in the doctor’s office. After taking the first tablet, you or your child will be watched for at least 30 minutes for symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.
- Children and adolescents should be given each tablet of RAGWITEK by an adult who will watch for any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.
- You should tell your doctor if you or your child is taking or has recently taken any other medicines, including medicines obtained without a prescription and herbal supplements. Keep a list of them and show it to your doctor and pharmacist each time you get a new supply of RAGWITEK. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking RAGWITEK.
- Stop RAGWITEK and contact your doctor if you or your child has any of the following after taking RAGWITEK: Any type of a serious allergic reaction; throat tightness that worsens or swelling of the tongue or throat that causes trouble speaking, breathing or swallowing; asthma or any other breathing condition that gets worse or heartburn, difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing, or chest pain that does not go away or worsens. Also stop taking RAGWITEK following mouth surgery procedures (such as tooth removal) or if you or your child develop any mouth infections, ulcers or cuts in the mouth or throat.
- The most commonly reported side effects in adults were itching of the mouth, lips, or tongue, swelling under the tongue, or throat irritation. These side effects, by themselves, were not dangerous or life-threatening.
- The most commonly reported side effects in children and adolescents were itching of the mouth or ears, swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, pain in the mouth, tongue, or upper abdomen, nausea, or throat irritation. These side effects, by themselves, were not dangerous or life-threatening.
- Your doctor may decide that RAGWITEK is not the best treatment for you or your child if you or your child has asthma; plan to become pregnant or is breast-feeding; is unable or unwilling to administer epinephrine; or is taking certain medicines, including other allergen immunotherapy.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Please read the accompanying Medication Guide for RAGWITEK, including the information about severe allergic reactions, and discuss it with the doctor. The physician Prescribing Information also is available. Tran NP, Vickery J, Blaiss MS. Management of rhinitis: allergic and non-allergic. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2011;3(3):148-156.  Mayo Clinic website. Allergies. Overview. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases- conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497. Accessed August 8, 2019.  Allergy and Asthma Network. Ragweed Allergy. Available at https://allergyasthmanetwork.org/allergies/pollen-allergy/ragweed-allergy/?gclid=CjwKCAjwhMmEBhBwEiwAXwFoEQ-3vjefiVLTThu0LSp9x-uGv6R0BBfeqIkMSwEKZpEDKp17G2loXRoCzZcQAvD_BwE. Accessed on May 5, 2021  ALK-Abelló A/S. May 2018. Use your own immune system to treat the cause of your allergies. U.S.A.  Ragweed Allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/ragweed-allergy. Accessed May 5, 2021.