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Doubts cast over Grazax hayfever treatment

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An under-the-tongue hayfever treatment based on grass pollen extract should not be used to treat hayfever, experts have claimed.

Grazax, which is manufactured by ALK-Abello, is the first product to be licensed in the UK for sublingual immunotherapy.

The BMJ’s Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin states that the three existing trials provide ‘no convincing evidence of a worthwhile benefit from use of Grazax’.

None of the trials compared the treatment with existing subcutaneous immunotherapy or standard symptomatic therapies for hayfever. A common side effect, occurring in half of patients and lasting for up to a week, is an itchy mouth.

Grazax must also be taken all year round, costing the NHS £821 per treatment – more than twice as much as the £320 paid for a course of immunotherapy injections.

Symptomatic treatment for six months during the hayfever season with loratidine costs just £6 and intranasal beclometasone costs around £29.

Authors write: ‘Grazax is expensive and its long-term efficacy and safety are not known. On the current evidence, we cannot recommend the use of Grazax.'

Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (2008) 46:9-10

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