Are Allergy Drops More Cost Effective Than Allergy Shots?

Updated
Updated

Between 20-40% of Americans have allergic rhinitis or inflammation inside the nose and sinuses resulting from allergy symptoms. Current management strategies for allergic rhinitis range from temporary treatments by avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter antihistamines, to long-term treatments through immunotherapy.

What Are the Types of Immunotherapy?

For patients who want a long-term fix to their allergies or don’t respond well to traditional treatments, immunotherapy might be the solution. There are two forms of immunotherapy currently available in the US: subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), also known as allergy shots, and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), which is sometimes referred to as allergy drops or SLIT tablets.

Which Is a More Effective Treatment?

Allergy shots use frequent injections to deliver the treatment, while sublingual immunotherapy is administered at home and taken under the tongue. Between the two immunotherapy delivery methods, there is strong evidence that both SCIT and SLIT are effective allergic rhinitis and asthma treatments in adults and children. Comparison studies show that allergy tablets, allergy drops, and allergy shots are all equally effective.

A Study Comparing Costs

While the two types of immunotherapy are equally effective treatments, studies have shown variability in whether SCIT or SLIT is more cost-effective. Most insurance companies cover allergy shots. However, they may limit the number of injections covered in a specific time frame. Most insurance companies do not pay for sublingual immunotherapy yet. However, the authors of “Cost-effective Analysis of a Subcutaneous vs. Sublingual Immunotherapy from the Payer’s Perspective” have specially negotiated contracts that cover SLIT.

The analysis showed the average insurance charges for treatments were $1,722.24 for a year of SCIT, but only $669.50 for a year of SLIT. The results of the comparison state that for an assumed 80% efficacy of SCIT compared to a 70% efficacy for SLIT, SLIT is still the more cost-effective option per successful outcome. If you keep adherence the same for both types of therapy, SLIT is the more cost-effective treatment.

This study focused on costs to the insurance company instead of the patient. Therefore, it did not consider the indirect costs of immunotherapy, such as travel costs or lost productivity. These costs are also significantly higher for SCIT patients than SLIT patients. While the contractual rate for SLIT in this scenario is unique, the study may bolster future efforts in support of widespread SLIT coverage.

Take Our Allergy Assessment

If you are looking for cost-effective immunotherapy, choose Wyndly. Our sublingual immunotherapy subscription is only $99 a month, which includes allergy treatment and regular appointments and check-ins with our allergy doctors. Our treatment plans are also eligible for HSA and FSA reimbursement.

Take our two-minute allergy assessment to see if you’re a candidate for sublingual immunotherapy and get one step closer to long-term relief!

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