A new treatment for children suffering from severe grass pollen-induced allergies was launched in the UK yesterday by Danish pharmaceutical group ALK-Abello.

Grazax attacks the root cause of allergy instead of ‘just’ treating its symptoms, and has the important advantage over rivals on the market of being the first immunotherapy with an oral as opposed to injected route of administration, enabling it to be taken in the home.

According to the company, clinical studies have clearly demonstrated the benefit of Grazax in children, with results showing that adding the drug to a standard therapy - such as antihistamines and nasal steroids - boosted the number of ‘well days’ by 22% as well as cut hay fever symptoms by 27%. In addition, the use of Grazax resulted in a “64% reduction in these other medications during the peak grass pollen season”, the company said, which is a particularly important benefit in children.

ALK-Abello also points out that the effects of immunotherapy are long-lasting, and cites one study showing long-term remission of symptoms for at least three years after patients stopped treatment, as well as interim results from an adult study with Grazax demonstrating “a sustained reduction in symptoms a year after treatment had ceased”.

Cost effective for NHS
Treatment with Grazax costs the National Health Service £67.50 for 30 tablets, which equates to £2.25 per day, and offers “a cost-effective strategy in patients suffering from allergic rhinitis with co-existing asthma,” the company says.

This claim is based on a recent health economic study by Nasser Set al, published in the journal Allergy, which concluded: “specific immunotherapy with Grazax represents efficient use of NHS resources and should therefore be integrated into the care pathway of patients with moderate-to-severe grass pollen induced asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis in the UK”.

Grazax has been available for adult sufferers since 2007.