CAM 20117

Sublingual Immunotherapy as a Technique of Allergen-Specific Therapy

Category:Medicine   Last Reviewed:July 2019
Department(s):Medical Affairs   Next Review:July 2020
Original Date:April 2013    

Description
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a potential alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) for providing allergen-specific therapy. SLIT is proposed as a more convenient alternative delivery route for treating a variety of allergic disorders.

For individuals who have pollen-induced allergic rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis who receive SLIT, the evidence includes randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, quality of life, hospitalizations, medication use, and treatment-related morbidity. Three sublingual pollen extracts are U.S. Food and Drug Administration‒approved for treatment of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis. Large, well-designed RCTs supporting the marketing applications for these products have provided consistent evidence of efficacy and safety. Although trials were placebo-controlled, rather than SCIT-controlled, minimum clinically important criteria for demonstrating efficacy were prespecified and met in most studies. The evidence is sufficient to determine that the technology results in a meaningful improvement in the net health outcome.

For individuals who have house dust mite-specific allergy who receive SLIT, the evidence includes RCTs and systematic reviews. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, quality of life, hospitalizations, medication use, and treatment-related morbidity. Most RCTs evaluating SLIT for patients with dust mite allergies have been placebo-controlled. Meta-analyses have found high levels of heterogeneity among studies. The most recent meta-analysis, published in 2015, had mixed findings; some outcomes but not others favored SLIT over placebo or pharmacologic treatment. Trials comparing SLIT with SCIT have tended not to find differences in efficacy, but conclusions are limited due to small sample sizes. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes.

For individuals who have food allergy who receive SLIT, the evidence includes RCTs and systematic reviews. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, quality of life, hospitalizations, medication use, and treatment-related morbidity. A few RCTs have evaluated SLIT for treatment of food allergies, and these studies have had small sample sizes and tended to be rated as low quality by systematic reviewers. The available RCTs have not consistently found that SLIT is more effective than placebo or oral immunotherapy. No RCTs were identified that compared SLIT with SCIT. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes. 

Background 
Allergen-specific immunotherapy involves administering well-characterized allergen extracts, the potencies of which are measured and compared with a reference standard. An initial induction or build-up phase progressively increases the allergen dose; this is followed by multiple years of maintenance injections at the highest dose. Allergen-specific immunotherapy has been used to treat various conditions, including insect allergy, allergic rhinitis and asthma. Subcutaneous immunotherapy is the standard of care. Due to the inconvenience of multiple injections, particularly in children, alternative delivery routes have been investigated; of these, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is the most prominent. SLIT targets absorption to the sublingual and buccal mucosa. Allergen preparations used for SLIT are held under the tongue for 1 to several minutes and then swallowed or spit out.

Regulatory Status
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first sublingual allergen extract tablets for treatment of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis.

  • On April 1, FDA approved Oralair® allergen extract (Stallergenes S.A., Antony, France) for patients 10 to 65 years of age. Oralair® contains freeze-dried pollen allergen extracts of five grasses: Kentucky Blue Grass, Orchard, Perennial Rye, Sweet Vernal and Timothy.
  • On April 11, FDA approved Grastek® Timothy grass pollen (Phleum pretense) allergen extract (Merck, Whitehouse Station, NJ) for patients  5 to 65 years of age. Grastek® is marketed in Europe as Grazax®.
  • On April 17, FDA approved Ragwitek® short ragweed pollen allergen extract (Merck, Whitehouse Station, NJ) for patients 18 to 65 years of age.

Related Policies
20101 Diagnosis and Management of Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (i.e., Multiple Chemical Sensitivities)

Policy
Sublingual immunotherapy using Oralair®, Grastek® or Ragwitek® may be considered MEDICALLY NECESSARY, when used according to FDA-labeling, for the treatment of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis when the following conditions are met:

  • Patient has a history of rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms related to grass or short ragweed pollen exposure.
  • Patient has a documented positive pollen-specific skin test or pollen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) test (see Policy Guidelines section).
  • Patient’s symptoms are not adequately controlled by appropriate pharmacotherapy (see Policy Guidelines section).

Sublingual immunotherapy as a technique of allergy immunotherapy is considered INVESTIGATIONAL for all other uses.

Policy Guidelines 
CPT codes for allergen immunotherapy are specific to parenteral administration and should not be used for sublingual immunotherapy. The unlisted CPT code 95199 should be used.

USE OF ORALAIR®, GRASTEK® AND RAGWITEK®
Documentation of Allergy
Allergy must be confirmed by positive skin test or in vitro testing for pollen-specific immunoglobulin E antibodies to the species contained in the product or, for Grastek®, Timothy grass pollen extract, to cross-reactive species.

Contraindications
Contraindications include severe, unstable or uncontrolled asthma; history of any severe local reaction, or any severe systemic allergic reaction to sublingual immunotherapy or any severe local reaction to sublingual allergen immunotherapy; and history of eosinophilic esophagitis.

Administration and Dose

  • Prescribing information includes a black box warning for severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis and severe laryngopharyngeal edema. Patients must be prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector and be trained on how to use it. 
  • Oralair® is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients 10 to 65 years of age. Grastek® has been approved by FDA for patients 5 to 65 years of age. Ragwitek® has been FDA-approved for patients 18 to 65 years of age.
  • Treatment should begin 12 weeks (16 weeks for Oralair®) before the expected onset of the allergy-inducing pollen season. Each product is dosed once daily and continued throughout the pollen season (precoseasonal dosing).
  • The first dose is administered under the supervision of a physician experienced in diagnosing and treating severe allergic reactions. Subsequent doses may be taken at home.
  • For Oralair®, dose titration is required in patients 10 to 17 years of age. Titration can be completed over 3 days at home, 100 IR [index of reactivity] on day 1, 2 times 100 IR on day 2 and 3 times 100 IR on day 3. In patients between 18 and 65 years, no dose titration is needed; treatment is initiated at the maintenance dose of 300 IR.
  • Grastek® and Ragwitek® both are initiated at the maintenance dose (2,800 bioequivalent allergy unit and 12 Amb a 1 unit, respectively).

PHARMACOTHERAPY OF POLLEN-INDUCED ALLERGIC RHINITIS
There is general agreement from clinical practice guidelines on pharmacologic treatment of pollen-induced rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis that:

  • Treatment should be individualized based on symptom severity and duration, comorbidities, and patient age, preference (e.g., route of administration, tolerance for adverse effects) and previous treatment history.
  • Measures to increase treatment adherence (e.g., shared decision making, consideration of the patient’s school or work schedule, use of a medication calendar or check-off list) are encouraged.
  • Goals of treatment are symptom reduction and improvements in functional capacity and quality of life.
  • A "step-up" (if treatment is inadequate) or "step-down" (if symptom relief is achieved with other interventions, e.g., avoidance) approach to treatment is recommended.
  • Allergen avoidance is the first step of treatment but may be unrealistic for some patients.

Six medication classes are used to treat allergic rhinitis: H1 antihistamines (oral and intranasal), corticosteroids (oral [short-course for severe disease] and intranasal), leukotriene receptor antagonists (oral), sympathomimetic decongestants (oral and intranasal), chromones (intranasal) and the anticholinergic, ipratropium bromide (intranasal).

  • Treatment should be symptom-specific, e.g., oral antihistamines may be less effective for prominent congestion than other treatments; prominent rhinorrhea may respond to intranasal ipratropium; rhinitis-only symptoms may be treated with local (intranasal) rather than systemic (oral) therapy.
  • For mild or intermittent symptoms, oral or nasal antihistamine may be considered first-line treatment.
  • Newer generation (selective) oral antihistamines generally are recommended over older (nonselective) antihistamines. Patients with insomnia and pregnant women may prefer older antihistamines because of their sedating effects and longer safety history, respectively.
  • Intranasal corticosteroids may be effective for more severe or persistent symptoms.
  • Combination treatment (e.g., oral antihistamine plus intranasal corticosteroid, intranasal antihistamine and corticosteroid, antihistamine [oral or intranasal] plus sympathomimetic [oral or short-course (≤ days to avoid rebound congestion) intranasal]) may be effective for symptoms nonresponsive to single medications.
  • Oral sympathomimetics may cause insomnia; their use is limited in patients with certain comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, unstable hypertension).
  • Oral leukotriene receptor antagonists may reduce asthma exacerbations in patients with comorbid asthma. 

Benefit Application
BlueCard®/National Account Issues
Sublingual immunotherapy may be offered by specialized clinics.

Rationale
Assessment of efficacy for therapeutic intervention involves a determination of whether an intervention improves health outcomes. The optimal study design for this purpose is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that includes clinically relevant measures of health outcomes. Intermediate outcome measures, also known as surrogate outcome measures, may also be adequate if there is an established link between the intermediate outcome and true health outcomes. Nonrandomized comparative studies and uncontrolled studies can sometimes provide useful information on health outcomes, but are prone to biases such as noncomparability of treatment groups, placebo effect, and variable natural history of the condition.

ALLERGIC RHINITIS OR RHINOCONJUNCTIVITIS
Systematic Reviews
A 2003 TEC Assessment concluded that, due to the paucity of studies comparing sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) with subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and the lack of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)‒approved agents for use in SLIT, the evidence was insufficient on the use of SLIT for allergen immunotherapy.1   

In 2014, FDA approved 3 sublingual allergen products for the treatment of allergic rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis. As part of a 2015 systematic review, Di Bona et al conducted a meta-analysis of studies on FDA-approved grass pollen SLIT tablets.2 Thirteen studies met reviewers’ inclusion criteria, which were placebo-controlled randomized trials on grass pollen SLIT in patients with a clinical history of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and data on symptom scores or medication scores. Most studies reported the same symptom score, which ranged from 0 to 18 points (higher scores indicating greater disease severity). In a pooled analysis, SLIT was more effective than placebo. The standardized mean difference (SMD) for the treatment effect was -0.28 (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.37 to -0.19; p<0.001). Findings were similar in an analysis that excluded the 5 studies at high or moderate risk of bias.

SLIT vs SCIT
A few head-to-head trials have compared SLIT with SCIT indirectly. Two indirect comparative effectiveness analyses published in 2014 and 2015 reached similar conclusions on the relative efficacy of SLIT and SCIT for grass pollen allergies.3,4 Both studies showed comparable reductions in allergic rhinitis symptoms with SLIT and SCIT, and 1 study showed comparable reductions in medication use.4 Both studies found evidence of publication bias.

In 2013, Dretzke et al published a systematic review that included an indirect comparison of SCIT and SLIT for seasonal allergic rhinitis, using data from placebo-controlled trials.5 Several outcomes were examined. For symptom score, the overall standardized score difference (SSD) was 0.35 (95% CI, 0.13 to 0.59), a statistically significant result that favored SCIT. The overall SSD for medication score was 0.27 (95% CI, 0.03 to 0.53), which was statistically significant in favor of SCIT. Reviewers noted that heterogeneity among trials was substantial and that any conclusions about the clinical significance of the differences in outcomes between SCIT and SLIT would be tentative.

Randomized Controlled Trials
The key randomized controlled trials (RCTs) performed as part of the FDA approval process for specific SLIT products are reviewed next, followed by recent RCTs and meta-analyses.

Information about 3 SLIT products approved by FDA for the treatment of pollen-induced (ie, seasonal) allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis was obtained from FDA documentation and prescribing information. Published RCTs are cited when identified. All RCTs were placebo-controlled and double-blinded. Patients had had a minimum 2-year history of allergic rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis and received treatment for their symptoms during the previous pollen season. Patients with mild intermittent asthma were included (16% across all trials); all other patients with asthma were excluded. Polysensitized people were included in some trials. Precoseasonal dosing, i.e., commencing before the start of the allergen pollen season and continuing throughout the season, was used in all trials. The primary efficacy end point was the combined score, defined as the mean of the Rhinoconjunctivitis Total Symptom Score (RTSS) and the Rescue Medication Score (RMS).

  • RTSS is the sum of 6 symptom scores: sneezing, rhinorrhea, nasal itching, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and watery eyes, each scored on a 0 (absent) to 3 (severe) scale (range, 0-18).
  • RMS measures the potency of rescue medications used. For Oralair (and for Grastek and presumably Ragwitek), 1 point (6 points) was assigned to antihistamine, 2 points (8 points) to intranasal corticosteroid, 3 points (16 points) to oral corticosteroid, and 0 points (0 points) when no rescue medication was used. The maximum score was 3 for Oralair and 36 for Grastek (and presumably Ragwitek).
  • The combined score was calculated by combining RTSS and RMS. For Oralair, RTSS was divided by 6 and averaged with RMS (range, 0-3). For Grastek and Ragwitek, RTSS and RMS were summed (range, 0-54).

Although the combined score is not validated, minimum clinically meaningful relative differences were prespecified. The relative difference (expressed as a percentage) was calculated by dividing the least squares mean difference by the within-group least squares mean of the placebo group. For Oralair (as well as for Grastek and Ragwitek), a minimum 15 (20) percentage-point relative difference favoring the active agent, with a minimum 10 (10) percentage-point lower bound of the 95% confidence interval, was required to demonstrate clinical efficacy. Analyses were intention-to-treat (ITT).

Oralair
Five pivotal trials were submitted to FDA in support of the biologics license application for Oralair; four were natural field trials (three European, one United States) and one was an environmental exposure chamber trial (Europe). Trial participants had a history of seasonal rhinoconjunctivitis for at least 2 grass pollen seasons. Patients in European trials also had a positive skin prick test to 5-grass pollen extract and positive serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) to Timothy grass; patients in U.S. trials had a positive skin prick test to Timothy grass pollen extract. Polysensitive people exposed to additional allergens during grass pollen season (e.g., who lived in areas where grass pollen season overlapped with tree or ragweed pollen season) were excluded. The pregrass pollen season treatment duration was 4 months in most trials. As shown in Table 1, all studies satisfied the FDA requirement for efficacy.6,7 A sixth pivotal trial used a 2-month preseason treatment period and did not meet FDA criteria for efficacy.8

Table 1. Results of 5 Pivotal Oralair Trials

Trial

N

Relative Difference in Combined Score (95% CI), %

Trial 1: Phase 3, multicenter U.S. trial

473

28 (13 to 43)

Trial 2: European dose-finding trial

284

30 (16 to 43)

Trial 3: Phase 3, 3-year European trial

426

38 (22 to 55)

Trial 4: Phase 3, European pediatric trial

278

30 (13 to 47)

Trial 5: European EEC trial

89

29 (14 to 44)a

CI: confidence interval; EEC: environmental exposure chamber.
a Rhinoconjunctivitis Total Symptom Score.

Safety
In the pooled FDA safety database, 1,192 patients (13% children and adolescents) received Oralair 300 IR. Adverse events that occurred only at higher doses were noted as potential safety signals. In the pooled adult sample, the most common treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) reported at higher frequencies with Oralair than with placebo were oral pruritus (33% vs 7%) and throat irritation (21% vs 4%). Other TEAEs reported in more than 2.5% of Oralair recipients and more commonly than in placebo recipients included tongue and ear pruritus; edema of the mouth, lip, tongue, or pharynx; oral paresthesia; and dyspepsia. Five percent of Oralair recipients and 1% of placebo recipients withdrew from trials due to TEAEs. Serious adverse events occurred in 13 (1.3%) Oralair recipients and 5 (0.6%) placebo recipients. Of those occurring in Oralair recipients, 1 episode of gastroenteritis requiring hospitalization was considered "possibly related" to Oralair, and 2 episodes of laryngopharyngeal disorders occurring within 5 minutes of receiving the first dose of Oralair were considered related to Oralair. There were no reported deaths, cases of anaphylactic shock, or use of epinephrine in the pooled adult safety database.

The pooled child and adolescent safety database comprised 312 patients ages 5 to 17 years; 45% (n=140) of this sample was age 5 to 11 years. TEAEs reported at a higher frequency with Oralair than with placebo were oral pruritus (33% vs 4%), oral edema (13% vs 0%), and throat irritation (9% vs 5%), respectively. Other TEAEs reported in more than 2.5% of Oralair recipients were tongue, lip, and ear pruritus; tongue and lip edema; upper abdominal pain; and vomiting. As in the pooled adult sample, 5% of Oralair recipients and 1% of placebo recipients withdrew from trials due to TEAEs. No serious adverse event was considered related to Oralair. There were no reported deaths, cases of anaphylaxis, use of epinephrine, or severe laryngopharyngeal disorders in the pooled child and adolescent safety database.

A 2015 meta-analysis by Didier and Bons reviewed safety data on Oralair.9 The reviewers reported on 2 postmarketing safety studies. A 2008 study was conducted in 808 adults and 91 children and adolescents treated for a mean of 191 days. A total of 320 (36%) of patients experienced an adverse drug reaction (ADR). A 2009 study was conducted in 829 children and adolescents treated for a mean of 190 days, and 218 (27%) patients experienced an ADR. ADRs led to medication discontinuation in 85 (9.5%) patients treated in 2008 and 72 (9.0%) patients treated in the 2009 study. In both studies combined, 9 serious ADRs possibly related to the medication were reported.  

Grastek
Six phase 3 pivotal trials were submitted to FDA in support of the biologics license application for Grastek. All were natural field trials; four were conducted in North America and two in Europe. Trial participants had a history of grass pollen-induced rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis, positive serum IgE to Timothy grass pollen, and baseline forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) greater than 70% of predicted value. Polysensitized patients who required treatment for nongrass pollen allergies during grass pollen season were excluded. Patients were randomized 1:1 to daily Grastek 2,800 bioequivalent allergy unit or placebo. In 1 trial (trial 3), patients continued dosing for 3 years continuously. Three (trials 1-3) of 6 studies (2,480/3,501 [71%] of total patients) met the FDA criteria for efficacy (see Table 2). However, in trial 3, for the 241 (38%) of 634 patients who remained on-study for 2 years after discontinuing Grastek, the relative difference in the combined score was 23% (95% CI, 6% to 37%), which no longer met the FDA criteria for efficacy.  

Table 2. Results of 6 Phase 3 Pivotal Grastek Trials

Trial

N

Relative Difference in Combined Score (95% CI), %

Trial 1: U.S. and Canada adult and pediatric trial

1,501

23 (13 to 36)

Trial 2: U.S. and Canada pediatric trial

345

26 (10 to 38)

Trial 3: European sustained effect trial

634

34 (26 to 42)a

Trial 4: German pediatric trial

253

24 (5 to 41)b

Trial 5: U.S. adult trial

329

10 (4 to 24)b

Trial 6: U.S. and Canada adult trial

439

21 (6 to 33)b

Pooled analysis10

3,094c

20 (16 to 24)

CI: confidence interval.
a Year 1.
b Did not meet Food and Drug Administration criteria for efficacy.
c Does not account for 407 (12%) patients.   

Safety
The pooled FDA safety database comprised 2,389 patients who received Grastek (20% children and adolescents), 2,116 (86%) of whom received Grastek 2800 bioequivalent allergy unit.10 The most common TEAEs that led to trial discontinuation were oral pruritus (n=12), oral edema (n=7), and swollen tongue (n=6) among Grastek-treated adults, and throat irritation (n=6) and oral edema (n=5) among Grastek-treated children or adolescents. One adult patient who had severe swollen tongue required treatment with epinephrine. Systemic treatment-related allergic reactions (e.g., angioedema, dysphagia, cough) developed in 6 Grastek-treated adults and 1 Grastek-treated adolescent. All were considered nonserious, although epinephrine was administered for 3 of the systemic reactions; onset ranged from immediate to day 42 of treatment. Among adults, 2 deaths were considered unrelated to Grastek. In pediatric studies, no deaths were reported.11 Based on these data, FDA estimated a 0.1% to 0.5% risk of severe or serious laryngopharyngeal or systemic reactions with Grastek.12 

A 2015 study by Maloney et al analyzed safety data from 8 placebo-controlled trials on Grastek.13 There were 4,195 patients in the pooled study population, 3,314 adults and 881 children and adolescents. A total of 2,115 were treated with grass SLIT tablets. Eight (0.4%) SLIT-treated patients experienced a mild or moderate systemic allergic reaction; no serious systemic allergic reactions were reported. Sixteen (1.6%) SLIT-treated patients reported treatment-related severe local allergic swellings. These comprised mouth edema, oropharyngeal swelling, palatal edema, pharyngeal edema, tongue edema, swollen tongue, throat tightness, and laryngeal edema.  

Ragwitek
Two pivotal trials on Ragwitek are included in the prescribing information.14 Both were natural field trials that enrolled adults ages 18 to 50 years who had ragweed pollen–induced allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis, positive serum IgE to ragweed pollen, and baseline FEV1 of at least 70% of predicted. As shown in Table 3, both trials met FDA criteria for efficacy

Table 3. Results of 2 Pivotal Ragwitek Trials in Adults

Trial   N   RD in Combined Score (95% CI) , % 
Trial 1: Phase 2/3 U.S. and Canada dose-finding trial   375   26 (14 to 38)  
Trial 2: Phase 3 U.S., Canada, and Eastern Europe dose-finding trial   394   27 (14 to 39)  

CI:  confidence interval; RD: relative difference. 

Safety
The pooled FDA safety database comprised 1,057 adults who received at least 1 dose of Ragwitek. The most common TEAEs in this group were throat irritation (17% vs 3%), oral pruritus (11% vs 2%), ear pruritus (10% vs 1%), and oral paresthesia (10% vs 4%), all vs the placebo group. Four percent and 0.8% of Ragwitek-treated and placebo-treated patients, respectively, discontinued treatment due to adverse reactions. Among Ragwitek-treated patients, the most common adverse reactions that led to study discontinuation were oral edema, swollen tongue, and dysphagia.

In trials 1 and 2 (n=962 Ragwitek-treated patients), no deaths, systemic allergic reactions, or life-threatening events occurred. TEAEs tended to occur early in the treatment course (within the first week or weeks). Most (82% in trial 1, 96% in trial 2) TEAEs were mild to moderate in severity. In trial 2, the most frequently reported adverse event leading to discontinuation was swollen tongue (n=10); all assessed as mild or moderate in severity. One patient required epinephrine for what was considered a progression of treatment-related local reactions.

Grazax
A 2017 double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized trial by Scadding et al enrolled 106 adults with moderate-to-severe seasonal allergic rhinitis at a single center to determine whether 2 years of SLIT improved symptoms at the 3-year follow-up, 1 year after discontinuation of treatment.15 Patients were randomized to SLIT with placebo, SCIT with placebo, or double-placebo, and 92 patients completed the study overall. The primary end point was measurement of the Total Nasal Symptom Score (TNSS; range 0 [best] to 12 [worst] within 10 hours of the challenge) after a nasal response challenge at 3-year follow-up. Although the ITT population included all randomized patients, only those with an evaluable endpoint were included in the analysis (modified ITT) (see Table 4). 

Table 4. Imputed TNSS Scores for the Modified ITT Population

 

Pretreatment

3 Year

Treatment Groups

N

Mean

95% CI

N

Mean

95% CI

Sublingual immunotherapy

34

6.36

5.76 to 6.96

30

4.55

3.67 to 5.43

Placebo

33

6.06

5.23 to 6.88

31

4.82

3.90 to 5.74

Subcutaneous immunotherapy

33

6.10

5.32 to 6.89

31

3.96

3.21 to 4.71

CI: confidence interval; ITT intention to treat; TNSS: Total Nasal Symptom Score.

The reported between-group difference was -0.18 (95% CI, -1.25 to 0.90; p=0.75), adjusted for baseline, demonstrating no statistically significant improvement in the primary outcome compared with placebo.

Secondary end points included a change in peak nasal inspiratory flow after challenge, seasonal weekly visual analog scale score, seasonal weekly rhinitis quality of life, end-of-season global rhinitis severity score, seasonal medication use, and early and late skin responses to intradermal allergen. There was no benefit from SLIT or SCIT compared with placebo for peak nasal inspiratory flow, visual analog scale scores, seasonal weekly rhinitis quality of life, or global rhinitis severity score. Throughout the 3 years, approximately 90% of participants returned some medication, and 47% to 70% returned all medication. At year 3, however, there were no significant between-group differences in medication use. Both SLIT and SCIT had lower early and late skin responses to allergen than placebo. Although there were no serious adverse effects from treatment, the SCIT group had a greater number of adverse events overall. 

Statistically significant differences between SLIT and placebo included hypersensitivity (p=0.19) and dyspepsia (p=0.03).

Researchers reported several limitations. To avoid seasonal variability in natural pollen exposure, the trial used the nasal allergen challenge in a controlled environment rather than daily symptom diaries. The trial focused on intervention effects for 2 years only and was not designed to compare 2 with 3 years of SLIT. Though the trial was not powered to compare SLIT with SCIT, and dropout rates were similar among the 3 groups, adherence was greater in the SLIT group (>90%) compared with the SCIT group (82%). Because blinding may have been compromised in patients in the placebo groups who experienced adverse effects, an individual who was not involved in seasonal assessments or the clinical immunotherapy protocol performed all nasal challenges and skin tests.

The largest pediatric trial to date by Valvorita et al (2017) assessed the impact of SLIT on grass pollen allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, medication use, immunologic markers, and notably, the onset of asthma.16 The 5-year double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 2 years of follow-up was conducted at 101 sites in 11 European countries and enrolled 812 children ages 5 to 12 with a history of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (mean, 3.4 years). Of those randomized, 608 (75%) completed the trial.

There was no difference in time to onset of asthma (primary end point) between the SLIT group (n=398) and the placebo group (n=414). However, there was a 71% relative risk reduction in asthma symptoms and asthma medication use for the entire trial period and for the 2-year follow-up period (odds ratio, 0.28; p<0.001). Assessment of secondary end points is as follows. During the 3 years of treatment and 2 follow-up years, the SLIT group had a 22% to 30% reduction in allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms when compared with placebo (p<0.002). Visual analog scale scores revealed a 22% reduction in symptoms for the SLIT group compared with the placebo group (p=0.005). The SLIT group also had a 27% reduction in medication use relative to the placebo group (p<0.001).

The most frequently reported adverse effects were nasopharyngitis, allergic conjunctivitis, oral pruritus, cough, and gastroenteritis. Compared with placebo, a higher proportion of children in the intervention group dropped out due to adverse effects. However, the study identified no new safety concerns. The authors reported no limitations to the RCT.

A 2017 meta-analysis of placebo-controlled randomized trial by Feng et al evaluated the efficacy and safety of SLIT use in pollen-induced allergic rhinitis in children ages 3 to 18 years.17 Of the 26 eligible RCTs (published 1990 to 2016), 14 (1,475 patients) studied symptom reduction, and 12 (1,196 patients) examined medication use. Only the subgroup analysis evaluated the use of SLIT for the population of interest, thereby rendering the overall results of the meta-analysis beyond the scope of this evidence review.

Nasal symptom and medication scores were assessed using mean differences and SMD (see Table 5).

Table 5. Subgroup Analysis of Efficacy for Pollen-Induced Allergic Rhinitis

Outcomes

No. Studies

No. Patients

SMD

95% CI

p

Symptom score

14

1,475

-0.43

-0.69 to -0.17

0.001

Medication score

12

1,196

-0.26

-0.44 to -0.08

0.005

 CI: confidence interval; SMD: standard mean differences.

Although the meta-analysis overall demonstrated a significant reduction in symptoms and medication use for pediatric patients, the subgroup analysis found that that SLIT was effective for grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis only. Overall, oral pruritus was the most common adverse effect in children who were receiving SLIT. Although the study addressed heterogeneity and potential of bias overall, neither was specifically reported for the studies included in the subgroup analysis.

Section Summary: Allergic Rhinitis or Rhinoconjunctivitis
Three sublingual pollen extracts (one multiple-allergen product [Oralair], two single-allergen products [Grastek and Ragwitek]) have been FDA-approved for treatment of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis. Large, well-designed, RCTs supporting the marketing applications for these products have provided consistent evidence of efficacy and safety. Although trials were placebo-controlled, rather than SCIT-controlled, minimum clinically important criteria for demonstrating efficacy were prespecified and met in most studies. Moreover, a 2015 meta-analysis of the placebo-controlled trials on FDA-approved grass pollen SLIT tablets found significantly greater efficacy in the treatment vs the control group. Notably, the largest pediatric trial to date found SLIT to have a positive, long-term impact on allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms and medication use relative to placebo, but did not reduce time to asthma onset. A recent placebo-controlled, double-blinded randomized trial of adults, however, found no significant difference between SLIT and placebo in the improvement of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms at 3-year follow-up, 1 year following discontinuation of treatment. Additionally, subgroup analysis from a 2017 meta-analysis of placebo-controlled randomized trials evaluating SLIT in children found the intervention to be effective for allergic rhinitis but not medication use.

HOUSE DUST MITE–SPECIFIC ALLERGY
Systematic Reviews
In 2015, Liao et al published a meta-analysis of studies on dust mite SLIT for treating children with asthma.18 Reviewers identified 11 RCTs and prospective controlled studies evaluating SLIT in children (i.e., <18 years old) with asthma and reporting clinical outcomes. Studies compared SLIT with placebo and/or pharmacotherapy. Findings of the meta-analysis were mixed. A pooled analysis of 8 studies found that an asthma symptom score decreased significantly more in the SLIT groups than in the control groups (SSD = -1.20; 95% CI, -2.07 to -0.33; p=0.007). A pooled analysis of 3 studies did not find significant differences between groups in change in medication usage (SSD = -0.52; 95% CI, -1.753 to 0.713; p=0.408). Groups also did not differ significantly in an analysis of change in specific Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus IgE levels before and after treatment (SSD=0.430; 95% CI, -0.045 to 0.905; p=0.076). In all analyses, there were high levels of heterogeneity among studies.

In 2015, Gendelman and Lang published a systematic review of house dust mite SLIT in atopic dermatitis.19 Five studies (total N=344 patients) were identified, but low methodologic quality limited conclusions that could be drawn. In 2013, Bae et al published a systematic review and meta-analysis of immunotherapy for children and adults with house dust mite–induced atopic dermatitis.20 Literature was searched through November 2012, and 8 placebo-controlled randomized trials were included (6 SCIT [n=307], 2 SLIT [n=90]). Using a dichotomous variable for treatment success, defined as the proportion of patients whose condition improved as assessed by investigators or patients, regardless of evaluation method used, the odds ratio was 5.35 (95% CI, 1.61 to 17.77). The significance of this finding is uncertain given the heterogeneity of treatments administered and use of a nonstandard outcome measure.

Randomized Controlled Trials
Focusing on RCTs comparing SLIT with SCIT, 3 trials published in 2010, 2011, and 2012 found no statistically significant differences between treatments in overall reduction of symptoms or medication use.21-23 For example, Eifan et al (2010) evaluated findings on 48 children who had asthma or rhinitis and had been sensitized to house dust mites.21 Participants were randomized to treatment with SLIT (n=16), SCIT (n=16), or usual pharmacotherapy alone (n=16). There was no significant difference in efficacy between the SLIT and SCIT groups. Compared with pharmacotherapy alone, both immunotherapy groups demonstrated a significant reduction in rhinitis and asthma symptom scores and medication use scores.

A small 2013 RCT compared house dust mite SCIT with SLIT in children who had rhinitis and asthma and were monosensitized to house dust mites.24 Thirty children were randomized to receive 1 or 2 years of SCIT or SLIT. Symptom scores were improved after 1 year of SCIT and after 2 years of SLIT. The significance of this finding is uncertain given the small sample size.

In 2017, Feng et al also conducted a meta-analysis of 25 placebo-controlled randomized trials (published from 1990 to 2016) on the efficacy of SLIT for dust mite–induced allergic rhinitis in adults and children.25 Most trials were double-blinded and deemed to be of high quality. All studies compared the intervention with placebo for a period that ranged from 6 to 36 months. In total, there were 3,674 randomized patients, and the largest trial included 992 participants. There were 12 pediatric trials, with ages ranging from 3 to 18 years. The RCTs included participants from Europe (13 studies, n=2,845 patients), Eastern Asia (5 studies, n=590 patients), Western Asia (5 studies, n=149 patients), Oceania (1 study, n=30 patients), and Africa (1 study, n=60 patients). Of 23 studies that reported discontinuation rates, 539 (14.6%) participants dropped out due to the following: adverse effects (3.0%), loss to follow-up (2.0%), noncompliance (1.9%), and poor efficacy (0.9%).

Primary end points were symptom scores and medication use. Symptom scores varied by type, including rhinitis symptoms only, rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, or rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma symptoms. Overall, there was a significant reduction in symptoms in the SLIT group relative to placebo (SMD=1.23; 95% CI, 1.74 to 0.73; p<0.001). A subgroup analysis of trials using different modalities (drops, n=19; tablets, n=6) found a significant reduction in symptom scores with the use of tablets (SMD = -1.81; 95% CI, -2.94 to -0.68; p=0.002) relative to drops (SMD = -1.06; 95% CI, -1.67 to -0.44; p<0.001).

Medication type also varied, including systemic and topical antihistamines, decongestants, and both systemic and topical nasal corticosteroids. Data on medication use was available in 18 RCTs, but the final analysis included only 15 RCTs due to substantial differences in how data were evaluated. Overall, there was a significant reduction in medication use in the SLIT group relative to the placebo group (SMD = -1.39; 95% CI, -1.90 to -0.88; p<0.001). Additionally, the significant reductions in medication use found among adults were not found in children (p=0.060), possibly due to dosage, lack of compliance, or small sample size.

Reviewers pointed out several important limitations to the meta-analysis, including significant heterogeneity among studies, inadequate reporting of blinding procedures, potential publication bias, small sample sizes, and variations in assessment scores, study protocols, pharmaceutical preparations, baseline symptom severity, and the prevalence of respiratory allergic complications among patients. A SMD measure, a random-effects model, and sensitivity analysis were used to mitigate these limitations.

In an additional subgroup analysis included in the 2017 review of placebo-controlled randomized trials, Feng et al also evaluated the efficacy and safety of SLIT use in pollen-induced allergic rhinitis in children ages 3 to 18 years.25 Of the 26 eligible RCTs (published 1990 to 2016), 12 studies (737 patients) studied symptom reduction, and 7 studies (359 patients) examined medication use in house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis. Only the subgroup analysis evaluated the use of SLIT for the population of interest, thereby rendering the overall results of the meta-analysis beyond the scope of this evidence review.

Nasal symptom and medication scores were assessed using mean differences and SMD. There was no statistically significant reduction in symptoms or medication use for children with house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis (see Table 6).

Table 6. Subgroup Analysis of Efficacy for Dust Mite–Induced Allergic Rhinitis in Children

Outcomes

No. Studies

No. Patients

SMD

95% CI

p

Symptom score

12

737

-0.70

-1.43 to 0.03

0.06

Medication score

7

359

-1.66

-2.60 to -0.71

<0.001

CI: confidence interval; SMD: standard mean differences.

Overall, oral pruritus was the most common adverse effect in children who were receiving SLIT. Although the meta-analysis addressed heterogeneity and potential of bias overall, these were not specifically reported for the studies included in the subgroup analysis.

Section Summary: House Dust Mite-Specific Allergy
A number of RCTs have evaluating SLIT for patients with dust mite allergies, mainly placebo-controlled trials. Meta-analyses found high levels of heterogeneity among studies. A meta-analysis published in 2015 had mixed findings; some outcomes but not others favored SLIT over placebo or pharmacologic treatment. Trials comparing SLIT with SCIT tended not to find differences in efficacy, but conclusions have been limited due to small sample sizes. A 2017 meta-analysis found SLIT to be associated with a significant reduction (among adults) in house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis symptoms and medication use relative to placebo. However, there was no statistically significant reduction for children. 

FOOD ALLERGY
Systematic Reviews
A 2014 systematic review identified 5 randomized trials of SLIT in patients with food allergies (fruit, peanut), four of which showed symptom improvement compared with placebo.26 However, all trials were considered low quality (e.g., most did not include symptom assessments of treatment).

Also in 2014, Romantsik et al reported on a Cochrane review of oral immunotherapy and SLIT for egg allergy.27 No RCTs of SLIT were identified in their literature search (through November 2013).  

Randomized Controlled Trials
Several RCTs have been published since the systematic reviews. In 2015, Narisety published a double-blind RCT comparing oral immunotherapy with SCIT in 21 children who had peanut allergies.28 Five (24%) children dropped out. Among the remaining 16 patients, those in the oral immunotherapy group had a significantly greater challenge threshold at 12 months than those in the SCIT group (p=0.01). However, only 4 patients had sustained unresponsiveness. Adverse events, generally mild, were significantly more common in the oral immunotherapy group. A 2015 RCT by Burks et al reported on a placebo-controlled SLIT study in 40 patients (20 per group) with peanut allergy.29 At week 44, 14 (70%) in the SLIT group were considered responders compared with 3 (15%) in the placebo group. Seventeen patients in the placebo group crossed over to high-dose SLIT, and 7 (44%) were considered responders after 44 weeks.

No trials comparing SLIT with SCIT for treatment of other food allergies were identified. 

Section Summary: Food Allergy
A few RCTs have evaluated SLIT for treatment of food allergies, and they had small sample sizes and tended to be rated as low quality by systematic reviewers. The available RCTs did not consistently find that SLIT was more effective than placebo or oral immunotherapy. No RCTs were identified that compared SLIT and SCIT.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE
For individuals who have pollen-induced allergic rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis who receive SLIT, the evidence includes RCTs and systematic reviews. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, quality of life, hospitalizations, medication use, and treatment-related morbidity. Three sublingual pollen extracts are U.S. Food and Drug Administration‒approved for treatment of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis. Large, well-designed RCTs supporting the marketing applications for these products have provided consistent evidence of efficacy and safety. Although trials were placebo-controlled, rather than SCIT-controlled, minimum clinically important criteria for demonstrating efficacy were prespecified and met in most studies. The evidence is sufficient to determine that the technology results in a meaningful improvement in the net health outcome.

For individuals who have house dust mitespecific allergy who receive SLIT, the evidence includes RCTs and systematic reviews. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, quality of life, hospitalizations, medication use, and treatment-related morbidity. Most RCTs evaluating SLIT for patients with dust mite allergies have been placebo-controlled. Meta-analyses have found high levels of heterogeneity among studies. The most recent meta-analysis, published in 2015, had mixed findings; some outcomes but not others favored SLIT over placebo or pharmacologic treatment. Trials comparing SLIT with SCIT have tended not to find differences in efficacy, but conclusions are limited due to small sample sizes. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes.

For individuals who have food allergy who receive SLIT, the evidence includes RCTs and systematic reviews. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, quality of life, hospitalizations, medication use, and treatment-related morbidity. A few RCTs have evaluated SLIT for treatment of food allergies, and these studies have had small sample sizes and tended to be rated as low quality by systematic reviewers. The available RCTs have not consistently found that SLIT is more effective than placebo or oral immunotherapy. No RCTs were identified that compared SLIT with SCIT. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes.

PRACTICE GUIDELINES AND POSITION STATEMENTS
American Academy of Otolaryngology
Head and Neck Surgery Foundation
In 2015, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation published clinical practice guidelines on allergic rhinitis that contained the following statement30:

"Clinicians should offer, or refer to a clinician who can offer, immunotherapy (sublingual or subcutaneous) for patients with AR [allergic rhinitis] who have inadequate response to symptoms with pharmacologic therapy with or without environmental controls. 

Recommendation based on RCTs [randomized controlled trials] and systematic reviews, with a preponderance of benefit over harm." 

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology et al
In 2013, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published a consensus report on allergy immunotherapy.31 The report summarized the literature and current practices in the United States and Europe; it did not include clinical recommendations. The report concluded: "Allergy immunotherapy (AIT) is effective in reducing symptoms of allergic asthma and rhinitis, as well as venom-induced anaphylaxis. In addition, AIT modifies the underlying course of disease. However, AIT remains a niche treatment secondary to symptomatic drugs because of its cost, long duration of treatment and concerns regarding safety and effectiveness.…”

In 2011, a joint task force of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology issued updated practice parameters for allergen immunotherapy.32 The document stated that randomized controlled trials of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) in patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma have demonstrated significant improvement in symptoms. The authors noted that there were no Food and Drug Administration–approved extract formulations for a noninjection route of immunotherapy.  

European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
In 2014, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published evidence-based guidelines on the diagnosis and management of food allergy.33 Based on single-arm studies (level III evidence), the guidelines concluded: "Food allergen-specific immunotherapy for primary food allergy is a promising immunomodulatory treatment approach, but it is associated with risk of adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis; it is therefore not currently recommended for routine clinical use." Based on expert opinion (level IV evidence), it was recommended: "For patients with respiratory or other allergy symptoms to inhalant allergens that may also cause cross-reactive food allergy, specific immunotherapy is only recommended for the treatment of the respiratory symptoms, not for cross-reactive food allergy." 

World Allergy Organization
In 2013, the World Allergy Organization updated its position paper on SLIT.34 Evidence-based conclusions included:

  • "Grass-pollen sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is effective in seasonal allergic rhinitis in children ≥5 years of age."
  • "Grass-pollen SLIT is probably effective in children ≥4 to <5 years of age."
  • "Grass or house dust mite (HDM) SLIT can be used for allergic rhinitis in children with asthma… More large randomized trials are needed…."
  • "Use of SLIT for latex allergy, atopic dermatitis, food allergy, and Hymenoptera venom is under investigation; more evidence is needed to support the use of SLIT for these indications."
  • Patients eligible for SLIT should have a "history of symptoms related to allergen exposure and a documented positive allergen-specific IgE [immunoglobulin E] test."
  • "SLIT may be considered as initial treatment …particularly [for] patients whose allergy is uncontrolled with optimal pharmacotherapy (that is, those who have severe chronic upper airway disease) …patients in whom pharmacotherapy induces undesirable side effects…patients who do not want to be on constant or long-term pharmacotherapy."
  • "Failure of pharmacologic treatment is not an essential prerequisite for …SLIT."

U.S. PREVENTIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS
Not applicable. 

ONGOING AND UNPUBLISHED CLINICAL TRIALS
Some currently unpublished trials that might influence this review are listed in Table 7.

Table 7. Summary of Key Trials

NCT Number

Trial Name

Planned Enrollment

Completion Date

Ongoing

NCT02443805a

Efficacy and Safety of STG320 Sublingual Tablets of House Dust Mite (HDM) Allergen Extracts in Adults and Adolescents With HDM-associated Allergic Rhinitis

1,740

Apr 2018

NCT02216175

Phase 2/3 Clinical Trial to Assess the Effect of a Sublingual Treatment Phase Prior to Oral Immunotherapy in Children With Cow's Milk Allergy

53

Dec 2018

NCT02304991

Peanut Sublingual Immunotherapy Induction of Clinical Tolerance of Newly Diagnosed Peanut Allergic 12 to 48 Month Old Children

50

Apr 2020

NCT01373242

Peanut Sublingual Immunotherapy and Induction of Clinical Tolerance in Peanut Allergic Children

50

Jun 2021

Unpublished

NCT02277483

Efficacy and Safety of LAIS® Mites Sublingual Tablets in Patients Aged Over 60 Years Suffering From House Dust Mite-induced Allergic Rhino-conjunctivitis With/Without Asthma

45

Dec 2016 (unknown)

NCT02005627

Randomized Placebo-controlled Study of Grass Pollen Allergen Immunotherapy Tablet (AIT) for Seasonal Rhinitis: Time Course of Nasal, Cutaneous and Immunological Outcomes

46

Mar 2017 (unknown)

 NCT: national clinical trial.
a Denotes industry-sponsored or cosponsored trial.

References 

  1. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). Sublingual immunotherapy for allergies. TEC Assessment. 2003;Volume 18:Tab 4.
  2. Di Bona D, Plaia A, Leto-Barone MS, et al. Efficacy of grass pollen allergen sublingual immunotherapy tablets for seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. Aug 2015;175(8):1301-1309. PMID 26120825
  3. Dretzke J, Meadows A, Novielli N, et al. Subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and indirect comparison. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May 2013;131(5):1361-1366. PMID 23557834
  4. Nelson H, Cartier S, Allen-Ramey F, et al. Network meta-analysis shows commercialized subcutaneous and sublingual grass products have comparable efficacy. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. Mar-Apr 2015;3(2):256-266.e253. PMID 25609326
  5. Dranitsaris G, Ellis AK. Sublingual or subcutaneous immunotherapy for seasonal allergic rhinitis: an indirect analysis of efficacy, safety and cost. J Eval Clin Pract. Jun 2014;20(3):225-238. PMID 24444390
  6. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Summary basis for regulatory action template: Oralair. 2014; https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Allergenics/UCM393021.pdf. Accessed October 1, 2018.
  7. Stallergenes S.A. Highlights of Prescribing Information: Oralair® (Sweet Vernal, Orchard, Perennial Rye, Timothy, and Kentucky Blue Grass mixed pollens allergen extract). 2014; https://oralair.com/docs/ORALAIR%20Prescribing%20Information-Med%20Guide.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2018.
  8. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) CfBEaR. Briefing document: Oralair, Allergenic Products Advisory Committee (APAC) meeting December 11, 2013. https://wayback.archive­it.org/7993/20170114031525/http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/BloodVaccinesandOtherBiologics/AllergenicProductsAdv Accessed October 1, 2018.
  9. Didier A, Bons B. Safety and tolerability of 5-grass pollen tablet sublingual immunotherapy: pooled analysis and clinical review. Expert Opin Drug Saf. Mar 3 2015:1­12. PMID 25732009
  10. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Statistical review: Grastek. 2014; http://wayback.archiveit.org/7993/20170722072840/https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Allergenics/UCM394338.pdf. Accessed October 1, 2018.
  11. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. 26th Meeting of the Allergenic Products Advisory Committee, December 12, 2013. 2013; https://wayback.archiveit.org/7993/20170114031528/http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/BloodVaccinesandOtherBiologics/AllergenicProductsAdv Accessed October 1, 2018.
  12. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Clinical review: Grastek. https://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/allergenics/ucm393162.htm. Accessed October 1, 2018.
  13. Maloney J, Durham S, Skoner D, et al. Safety of sublingual immunotherapy Timothy grass tablet in subjects with allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis and history of asthma. Allergy. Mar 2015;70(3):302-309. PMID 25495666
  14. Merck & Co. Highlights of Prescribing Information: Ragwitek® (short ragweed pollen allergen extract). 2017; https://www.ragwitek.com/app/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/USPI_US_RGW_20170818.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2018.
  15. Scadding GW, Calderon MA, Shamji MH, et al. Effect of 2 years of treatment with sublingual grass pollen immunotherapy on nasal response to allergen challenge at 3 years among patients with moderate to severe seasonal allergic rhinitis: The GRASS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. Feb 14 2017;317(6):615-625. PMID 28196255
  16. Valovirta E, Petersen TH, Piotrowska T, et al. Results from the 5-year SQ grass sublingual immunotherapy tablet asthma prevention (GAP) trial in children with grass pollen allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Feb 2018;141(2):529-538 e513. PMID 28689794
  17. Feng B, Wu J, Chen B, et al. Efficacy and safety of sublingual immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis in pediatric patients: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Rhinol Allergy. Jan 01 2017;31(1):27-35. PMID 28234149
  18. Feng B, Xiang H, Jin H, et al. Efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy for house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. May 2017;9(3):220-228. PMID 28293928
  19. Liao W, Hu Q, Shen LL, et al. Sublingual immunotherapy for asthmatic children sensitized to house dust mite: a meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). Jun 2015;94(24):e701. PMID 26091451
  20. Gendelman SR, Lang DM. Sublingual immunotherapy in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review using the GRADE system. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. Feb 2015;15(2):498. PMID 25504262
  21. Bae JM, Choi YY, Park CO, et al. Efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy for atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Jul 2013;132(1):110-117. PMID 23647790
  22. Demoly P, Emminger W, Rehm D, et al. Effective treatment of house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis with 2 doses of the SQ HDM SLIT-tablet: Results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Feb 2016;137(2):444-451 e448. PMID 26292778
  23. Zieglmayer P, Nolte H, Nelson HS, et al. Long-term effects of a house dust mite sublingual immunotherapy tablet in an environmental exposure chamber trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. Dec 2016;117(6):690-696 e691. PMID 27979028
  24. Nolte H, Bernstein DI, Nelson HS, et al. Efficacy of house dust mite sublingual immunotherapy tablet in North American adolescents and adults in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Dec 2016;138(6):1631-1638. PMID 27521719
  25. Yukselen A, Kendirli SG, Yilmaz M, et al. Two year follow-up of clinical and inflammation parameters in children monosensitized to mites undergoing subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. Sep 2013;31(3):233-241. PMID 24053706
  26. Eifan AO, Akkoc T, Yildiz A, et al. Clinical efficacy and immunological mechanisms of sublingual and subcutaneous immunotherapy in asthmatic/rhinitis children sensitized to house dust mite: an open randomized controlled trial. Clin Exp Allergy. Jun 2010;40(6):922-932. PMID 20100188
  27. Yukselen A, Kendirli SG, Yilmaz M, et al. Effect of one-year subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy on clinical and laboratory parameters in children with rhinitis and asthma: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, double-dummy study. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. Nov 2012;157(3):288-298. PMID 22041501
  28. Keles S, Karakoc-Aydiner E, Ozen A, et al. A novel approach in allergen-specific immunotherapy: combination of sublingual and subcutaneous routes. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Oct 2011;128(4):808-815.e807. PMID 21641635
  29. de Silva D, Geromi M, Panesar SS, et al. Acute and long-term management of food allergy: systematic review. Allergy. Feb 2014;69(2):159-167. PMID 24215577
  30. Romantsik O, Bruschettini M, Tosca MA, et al. Oral and sublingual immunotherapy for egg allergy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Nov 18 2014;11(11):CD010638. PMID 25405335
  31. Narisety SD, Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA, Keet CA, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of sublingual versus oral immunotherapy for the treatment of peanut allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May 2015;135(5):1275-1282.e1217-1276. PMID 25528358
  32. Burks AW, Wood RA, Jones SM, et al. Sublingual immunotherapy for peanut allergy: Long-term follow-up of a randomized multicenter trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May 2015;135(5):1240-1248.e1241-e1243. PMID 25656999
  33. Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Feb 2015;152(1 Suppl):S1-43. PMID 25644617
  34. Greenhawt M, Oppenheimer J, Nelson M, et al. Sublingual immunotherapy: A focused allergen immunotherapy practice parameter update. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. Mar 2017;118(3):276-282 e272. PMID 28284533
  35. Burks AW, Calderon MA, Casale T, et al. Update on allergy immunotherapy: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology/European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology/PRACTALL consensus report. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May 2013;131(5):1288-1296.e1283. PMID 23498595
  36. Cox L, Nelson H, Lockey R, et al. Allergen immunotherapy: a practice parameter third update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Jan 2011;127(1 Suppl):S1-55. PMID 21122901
  37. Roberts G, Pfaar O, Akdis CA, et al. EAACI guidelines on allergen immunotherapy: allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. Allergy. Apr 2018;73(4):765-798. PMID 28940458
  38. Muraro A, Werfel T, Hoffmann-Sommergruber K, et al. EAACI food allergy and anaphylaxis guidelines: diagnosis and management of food allergy. Allergy. Aug 2014;69(8):1008-1025. PMID 24909706
  39. Canonica GW, Cox L, Pawankar R, et al. Sublingual immunotherapy: World Allergy Organization position paper 2013 update. World Allergy Organ J. Mar 28 2014;7(1):6. PMID 24679069

Coding Section

Codes Number Description
CPT 95199

Unlisted allergy/clinical immunologic service or procedure

ICD-9 Procedure

99.12

Immunization for allergy

ICD-9 Diagnosis

477.0-477.9

Allergic rhinitis code range

 

V15.09

Allergy, other than to medical agents (history of)

ICD-10-CM (effective 10/01/15)

J30.1-J30.9

Allergic rhinitis code range

 

Z91.010-Z91.048

Allergy status, other than to drugs and biological substances, code range

ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/01/15)  

ICD-10- PCS codes are only for use on inpatient services.

 

3E0D7GC

Administration physiological introduction mouth and pharynx via natural opening other therapeutic substance.

Type of Service

Medical

 

Place of Service

Outpatient/Physician’s office

 

Procedure and diagnosis codes on Medical Policy documents are included only as a general reference tool for each policy. They may not be all-inclusive. 

This medical policy was developed through consideration of peer-reviewed medical literature generally recognized by the relevant medical community, U.S. FDA approval status, nationally accepted standards of medical practice and accepted standards of medical practice in this community, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association technology assessment program (TEC) and other non-affiliated technology evaluation centers, reference to federal regulations, other plan medical policies and accredited national guidelines.

"Current Procedural Terminology© American Medical Association.  All Rights Reserved" 

History From 2014 Forward     

07/01/2019 

Annual review, no change to policy intent. Updating references, no other changes.

07/06/2018 

Annual review, no change to policy intent. Updating description, rationale and references. 

07/03/2017 

Annual review, no change to policy intent. Updating background, description, guidelines, rationale and references. 

06/27/2016 

Annual review, no change to policy intent. 

07/14/2015 

Annual review, no change to policy intent. Updated background, description, rationale and references. Added coding. 

07/14/2014

Updated rationale, references. Added FDA status and policy guidelines. Policy verbiage updated to have medical necessity for "Sublingual immunotherapy using Oralair®, Grastek® or Ragwitek® may be considered medically necessary, when used according to FDA-labelling, for the treatment of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis when the following conditions are met:"

04/02/2014

 Annual review.  Added related policy.  Upated rationale and references. No change to policy intent. 

 


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