Merck, Stallergenes race to the FDA with new seasonal allergy treatments

Merck ($MRK) and Stallergenes are preparing to approach the FDA with two new therapies that promise to replace the traditional allergy shot with sublingual treatments that would be a lot easier to take as well as safer to dispense.

"It takes probably three years, at least, of immunotherapy to produce a good and lasting result," Dr. Harold Nelson, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver, tells the Los Angeles Times. "An awful lot of people get tired of it." And in rare cases, usually involving asthmatics, patients experience a severe reaction to the shots, with about one death reported each year.

So Merck has been studying the hay fever tablet Grazax--which is sold in Europe--with an eye toward filing an NDA later this year or early in 2011. And Stallergenes is prepping its app for Oralair. Researchers for both have reported significantly fewer symptoms of allergy compared to the placebo.

While taking a pill at home is likely to be vastly more appealing than a regular trip to the doctor's office for a long series of shots, researchers haven't gathered head-to-head data to see which is more effective at ridding people of the nasty seasonal sneeze.

- check out the LA Times story for more