Is the Cost of Sublingual Immunotherapy Worth It?

More and more people are considering sublingual immunotherapy as an alternative to allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy). Sublingual immunotherapy works like allergy shots except that the antigen solution is dispensed as liquid droplets under the tongue instead of being injected. The solution then absorbs into the bloodstream through specialized oral cells and can desensitize the body to allergens in the environment.

Sublingual Immunotherapy is worth it

The advantages of sublingual immunotherapy include:

  • Safety. Allergy drops have a higher safety profile than allergy injections.
  • Convenience. Because of their safety profile, drops can be taken at home instead of at the doctor’s office, saving patients a great deal of time.
  • Fewer age restrictions. Shots are usually only prescribed for children ages 7 and up, but drops have been shown to be safe for children 5 and under.
  • Effective for food allergies. Allergy shots aren’t a viable treatment for food allergies, but allergy drops have been found to be safe and effective for milk, nut, and wheat allergy treatment and more.

One challenge remains with sublingual immunotherapy, though, and that is that not all insurance companies cover it. Most insurance plans cover allergy testing as well as related doctor visits, but only some insurances cover the sublingual drops themselves.

You can talk to your allergy doctor to learn more, but if your insurance doesn’t cover the drops, do a careful cost comparison, keeping the following in mind:

Copays add up. If you’re being charged a copayment every time you show up to the doctor’s office for a shot, that can add up quickly. Make sure that the copays for shots don’t cost as much as the allergy drops themselves.

Time is money. If you are having to drive to the doctor’s office a couple times a week for allergy injections, is it worth it? Time is money, so make sure that the money you may be saving on shots is worth it when you consider the time that they are taking away from your job, family, or other aspects of your life.

Travel costs. Depending on how far you are from your doctor, don’t forget to figure in mileage costs for driving to and from their office for shots.

Effectiveness. Many people opt for drops instead of shots even if their insurance doesn’t cover because they get better results from drops. Many patients report experiencing more rapid symptom relief from drops than shots.

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of shots and drops, and choose the option that works best with your specific health needs and life situation.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.