How Much Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Cost?
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) refers to the treatment of the underlying cause(s) of allergies by giving the patient small doses of what he/she is allergic to. The dosage of the allergen is gradually increased until the patient develops a certain level of “immunity” or tolerance to the allergy-causing substance. The term “immunotherapy” refers to the strategy of increasing the dosage of the allergen, and the term “sublingual” means under the tongue. Unlike injection immunotherapy where the administration is through shots, the sublingual method is given as drops under the patient’s tongue.
Practicing allergists and primary care physicians in many European countries are becoming increasingly interested in immunotherapy as SLIT is gaining recognition and acceptance in that part of the world.
How much does it cost?
- On average, be prepared to pay upwards of $50 to $75 per month for sublingual immunotherapy. This will include the start up kit and the monthly refills. Since this type of therapy is not covered by the FDA, there is a good chance that your health insurance policy will not cover it.
- According to the Hopkinsmedicine.org, the cost of sublingual immunotherapy is around $1.50 per day during the first year and $1 per day in the succeeding year(s).
- A blog at Allergyweb.com states that for a year-round treatment of allergens, the cost would be roughly around $100 per allergen per month, while the seasonal pollens will cost around $10 to $20 per month.
What is going to be included?
- Before recommending sublingual immunotherapy, the doctor must first confirm that the patient has allergies. This is done through allergy testing. Then, the doctor orders for a custom-mixed vial of allergy drops for the patient, which the latter should take under his tongue on a daily basis. The dosage is gradually increased during the “escalation phase,” which is the first four months of treatment. After this phase comes the “maintenance phase” where the patient has to take the same dosage every day.
- Sublingual immunotherapy has proven to significantly reduce allergy symptoms, and this has been backed by many scientific studies.
- The drops will have a slightly sweet taste. To take these drop, the patient simply has to take the dropper-vial and squeeze the drops onto the tongue and then swallow.
- SLIT is relatively safe and effective for the treatment of rhinitis and asthma caused by allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, cat dander, and tree pollens. It is also used for treating food allergies.
What are the extra costs?
- Since doctors recommend that the patient should take the sublingual immunotherapy for three to five years to allow the body to build up a lasting tolerance, expect to continually purchase the drops until you are advised to stop it. With the above monthly average, the complete treatment may cost up to $3,750.
- Sublingual immunotherapy is quite expensive. A daily dose of SLIT is approximately twice the monthly dose of subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT). Subcutaneous immunotherapy is just the technical way of saying injection immunotherapy.
Factor that influences the price:
- According to The Allergy Group, Sublingual immunotherapy requires higher doses of allergen compared to what subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) does.
Tips to know:
- Most insurance companies do not cover sublingual immunotherapy. It is rather categorized under the FDA “off-label” use. Basically, this means that the Food and Drug Administration does not yet have enough evidence to endorse it. The reason for this is that it is a fairly new therapy, and therefore the long term effects have yet to be seen.
- SLIT may appeal to those you despise injection shot because its administration does not require any needle. Besides, treatment can be done by the patient himself in the convenience of his home.
- SLIT drops have been proven to generate less allergic reactions compared to SCIT.
- Sublingual immunotherapy is said to be a practical alternative to SCIT; even the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed it.
- When sublingual and subcutaneous immunotherapy are compared, the results are very comparable. Over an extended amount of time, it has been shown that SLIT does a better job of permanently fixing the allergy problems.
- There may be mild side effects of such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The most severe side effect, which is extremely rare, is anaphylaxis, or the tightening of the airways.
Questions to ask
- Are there risk factors of sublingual immunotherapy? If there are, what are those and how to avoid them?
- Is SLIT safe for young children below 10 years old? Or is the immunotherapy limited to certain age level?
- Where do the allergen extracts come from?
- When do we see the effects of SLIT?
How can I save money?
- SLIT is proven to be a very effective treatment for allergies. But if you are among those who are allergic to several allergens, you will probably require high doses of SLIT. For this, you will be spending a lot of money. Therefore, it would be wise to opt for the SCIT method instead for a long-term treatment.