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Specific immunotherapy (SIT) in the treatment of allergic rhinitis

Keywords: immunotherapy , desensitization , immunologic , rhinitis , allergic , perennial , rhinitis , allergic , seasonal , review

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Scientific background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) exhibits a prevalence of approx. 20% in Germany and causes enormous costs in the health care system. Specific immunotherapy (SIT) is considered to be the only potentially causal therapy for AR and mainly administered by two routes, subcutaneous (SCIT) and sublinguale (SLIT). SIT promises a reduction of symptoms and the need for medication in patients with AR. Research questions: The question arises, to what extent is SIT effective and cost effective in the treatment of AR and which ethical-social and legal aspects have to be considered regarding its application. Methods: The literature search was accomplished in the electronic data bases MEDLINE, EMBASE etc. in February 2008. The medical evaluation was based on systematic reviews of blinded, randomised controlled studies (RCT). The economic evaluation included health-economic studies on the basis of RCT. Additionally, it was also searched for publications explicitly addressing ethical-social and legal aspects of the use of SIT. Results: Medical evaluationTwo reviews on SCIT and three on SLIT were included in the medical evaluation. For the evaluation of SIT with grass pollen results for short and medium-term effects are considered from several studies, for SIT with other seasonal allergens (e. g. tree pollen) and with house dust mite allergens from clearly fewer studies and for SIT with other perennial allergens only from a few. The reviews report a significant reduction of the symptom and medication score in favour of SCIT with seasonal allergens and recognise the effectiveness at least for grass pollen allergens. Also for other seasonal allergens SCIT is appraised as effective. The reviews about SLIT determine a significant reduction of the symptom and the medication score in favour of SLIT vs. placebo in short and medium term follow-up in evaluations across all allergens. The subgroup analyses show a significant reduction of the symptom and medication score only in favour of SLIT with seasonal allergens. Health economic evaluationFour publications about two health economic studies are identified, one of these publications on Alutard-SQ injections (SCIT) and three on GRAZAX tablets (SLIT). The studies provide more (on Alutard-SQ ) or less (on GRAZAX ) robust information, but no evidence on cost effectiveness of these SIT administration forms in patients with AR. Discussion: The topic of the report is very broad, so that the evidence is summarised using systematic reviews. In particular the statistic heterogeneity of the studies found in the reviews consid


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