United Allergy Services launches mobile healthcare app to encourage patient medication adherence.

‘myAllergyPal’ Allows Patients Undergoing Immunotherapy Treatment to Track Symptoms, Medication and Medical Appointments

SAN ANTONIO, March 6, 2014 – United Allergy Services (UAS), a leading healthcare services company that enables family physicians, pediatricians and health systems to deliver safe and effective allergy testing and customized immunotherapy services, today announced myAllergyPal, an innovative mobile application that enables patients to track home-based immunotherapy treatment progress.

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Immunotherapy Best for Chronic Rhinitis

SAN DIEGO -- Treating allergic rhinitis with immunotherapy appeared to reduce the risk of chronic upper respiratory conditions, a Medicaid study showed.

Treatment for those conditions was three-fold more likely to decline in the 18 months after immunotherapy than in matched patients treated for rhinitis pharmacologically or otherwise (down 6% versus 2%, P<0.0001), Cheryl Hankin, PhD, of the health research company BioMedEcon in Moss Beach, Calif., and colleagues found.

The difference was significant in chronic sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsil or adenoid disease as well as nasal polyps and influenza, they reported here at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology meeting.

The results weren't unexpected but should help in counseling patients considering immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis, Theodore M. Freeman, MD, an allergist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas, told MedPage Today.

"This is absolutely confirming what I hear from my patients," he said."Now with this data, I can say it's documented that you're going to reduce the number of infections you're going to get and things like that."

Another implication is validating immunotherapy as important for allergic rhinitis, Hankin told reporters at a press conference.

"The public health and public policy message is that allergic rhinitis is not just a nuisance disease but is a precursor for the development of serious and extremely expensive respiratory disease," she said, noting that it also adds impetus to fast referral from primary care.

Her group had previously shown cost-effectiveness of allergy immunotherapy for hay fever using the same Florida Medicaid databases from 1997 through 2009.

The new analysis included 4,967 patients who had immunotherapy (likely almost all subcutaneous, given that the oral form isn't reimbursed) for newly diagnosed allergic rhinitis, and an equal group of matched allergic rhinitis patients who didn't get that treatment.

The likelihood of a decline in use of outpatient services over 18 months after immunotherapy versus controls was:

  • 35-fold higher for nasal polyps (down 0.34% versus up 0.14%, P=0.0131)
  • Two-fold more likely for chronic sinusitis (down 3.81% versus 2.15%, P<0.0001)
  • 35-fold higher for "other" upper respiratory tract disease (down 0.30% versus up 0.06%, P=0.0131)
  • Eight-fold more likely for chronic pharyngitis and nasopharyngitis (down 4.57% versus 0.62%, P<0.0001)
  • Four-fold more likely for chronic tonsil and adenoid disease (down 1.39% versus 0.34%, P<0.0001)

The same pattern with generally even greater magnitude of difference was seen at 6 and 12 months.

Immunotherapy was also associated with a three-fold higher likelihood of decrease in flu-related treatments (down 1.05% versus 0.34%, P<0.0001), but Harkin said this was not likely causal.

Rather, it suggested "that by getting specialty treatment, they're also getting preventive treatment," she said. "Their specialists are looking out for them."

The results should generalize from the Florida Medicaid population to other settings, Freeman suggested.

The study was supported by AAAAI; the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology; and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Hankin reported relevant financial relationships with Teva and Greer Labs.

Freeman reported relevant financial relationships with McKesson and UpToDate.

Primary source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Source reference: Hankin CS, et al "Allergy immunotherapy significantly reduces outpatient services use for chronic respiratory conditions in patients with newly-diagnosed allergic rhinitis" AAAAI 2014; Abstract 579.

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By Crystal Phend
March 4, 2014
medpagetoday.com


Pollen Allergies Rise During Spring in South Florida

For many South Florida children, March brings pollen allergy symptoms.  As trees and grass blossom, they release pollens that can trigger a reaction in your child's immune system, leading to sneezes, coughs, itchy eyes or more serious allergic reactions.

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Is It a Cold or Winter Allergies?

If you’re sniffling and sneezing this winter, you might think it’s a winter cold or flu — but it could be allergies.

“In the winter, most of the allergies that you’re going to suffer from are going to be indoor allergies — mold, cockroaches, dust mites and animal dander,” Joan Lehach, M.D., an allergist and clinical immunologist with a focus on integrative medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, told weather.com.

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UAS WAO Abstract Published Online

Congratulations to Frederick M. Schaffer, M.D., CMO; Larry Garner, allergy consultant; and Andrew Naples, clinical research coordinator; on the recent publication of The Safety of the United Allergy Services Immunotherapy Protocol. The abstract was published online in a supplement to the World Allergy Organization (WAO) Journal on February 3, 2014.

WAO

Click the link to access the publication: http://www.waojournal.org/content/7/S1/P24

The data was presented at the WAO Annual Symposium on Immunotherapy and Biologics in Chicago. The team earned Top Abstract Award by the WAO and was honored at the symposium in December.


Something To Sneeze At: National Survey Reveals That Majority Of Seasonal/Perennial Allergy Sufferers Want To Be Treated By A Primary Care Physician--Not An Allergist

SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the results of a recent United Allergy Services survey, two-thirds (68 percent) of U.S. seasonal/perennial allergy sufferers would rather seek treatment for their allergy symptoms from a primary care physician (PCP) than an allergist. Allergies are the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all agesi, and, with repeated exposure to allergens, many patients can develop allergic asthma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that today, approximately 50 million Americans suffer from allergies and allergic asthma, and the prevalence is increasing.

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Allergists Accused Of Shutting Out Competition

The Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care and United Allergy Services hit several coalitions of board-certified allergists, including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, with a lawsuit in Texas federal court Monday, alleging anti-competitive practices.

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Less Variety in Babies’ Gut Bacteria May Lead to Asthma Risk

Swedish study followed 47 infants for 7 years.

FRIDAY, Jan. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Infants with fewer types of intestinal bacteria are at increased risk for developing asthma, a small new study suggests.

Researchers assessed the varieties of gut bacteria in 47 infants and then followed them until they were 7 years old. At that age, 17 percent had chronic asthma, 28 percent had hay fever, 26 percent had the skin condition eczema, and 34 percent reacted to the allergens in a skin prick test.

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Data presented at World Allergy Organization Annual Symposium demonstrates safety of self-administered allergy shots

SAN ANTONIO– December 13, 2013 United Allergy Services (UAS)®, a leading healthcare services company assisting family physicians and health systems to deliver safe and effective allergy testing and customized immunotherapy services, today announced that data from a recent retrospective study citing the safety of UAS’ protocols for seasonal and perennial allergy treatment in the primary care setting will be presented at the World Allergy Organization’s (WAO) Annual Symposium on Immunotherapy and Biologics in Chicago. The abstract was also recognized with a Top Abstract Award by the WAO.

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Your Month-by-Month Guide to Allergies

You may feel as though you have year-round allergies, and you may be right. See what's most likely to be causing you to sneeze and wheeze as the months go by.

If you suffer from allergies for even part of the year, you may wonder when you'll get a reprieve. People with spring allergies, fall allergies, or winter allergies might feel relief during their off seasons, but for those who experience allergy symptoms year-round — it's a constant battle with allergens in the air. Here's a look at which allergies plague people most — and when.

January

During the winter, there's less pollen (if any) floating around, but cranking up the heat indoors can kick up house dust, a winter allergy trigger. If you're allergic to dust, winter allergies can be just as bad as in the spring and fall. To reduce dust exposure, it helps to keep your home's humidity below 55 percent, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly, and encase pillows and mattresses with dust-mite-proof covers.

February

Mold and dust can cause year-round allergy symptoms, but even if dust and mold don't bring on the sniffles for you, trees can cause your allergies to flare at this time of year, depending on where you live. "We can see tree pollen as early as February, even in the Northeast," says Marjorie L. Slankard, MD, an associate attending physician and director of the Allergy Clinic at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. In the United States, trees that commonly cause allergies include catalpa, elm, hickory, olive, pecan, sycamore, and walnut. Tree pollen can cause the same symptoms as most spring allergies — watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion

March

Tree pollen remains high on the list of allergens for March, which marks the beginning of spring. "If the trees, grasses, and pollens start coming out early, March can be rough going for people with spring allergies," Dr. Slankard says. Though nice spring weather beckons you outside, if you have spring allergies, keep your eye on the pollen count. The higher the count, the worse the allergies will be. A good place to check pollen counts is at the National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

April

April showers can bring … spring allergies. All that rain can make for blooming flowers, but as beautiful as they are, flowers and their pollen means discomfort for people with spring allergies. In some areas of the country, grass pollen emerges in April, too. Between the pollen from the flowers and the pollen from the grass, spring allergies may make you feel especially miserable.

May

Allergic to tree pollen? Although tree pollination can begin as early as February, it can last through May. That means you might need to slog through spring allergies for four long months. Grass pollen can also emerge this time of year in some parts of the country.

June

June is a key grass pollen month in many areas, and it's likely that grass pollen will start to trigger your spring allergies by this time of year if it hasn't already. As the days get longer and the temperature gets higher, you'll probably want to spend more time outdoors. If you suffer from spring allergies, you may have good days and bad days — the temperature, the rainfall amount, and even the time of day will affect grass pollen levels, and you'll need to adjust accordingly.

July

The good news is that by July, grass pollen should subside and you might feel like your spring allergies are finally becoming manageable again. The bad news is that July marks the start of fungus spores and seeds, so if you're allergic to molds and spores, too, you may feel like your allergies never end. Mold can grow on fallen leaves, compost piles, grasses, and grains.

August

August is a prime month for people with summer allergies to mold spores, which peak during hot, humid weather. You might want to stay inside on days when the mold spore count is particularly high. The best way to keep away from these allergens is to run the air conditioning with a HEPA filter — this cool comfort indoors should help you feel better during the dog days of August.

September

Late summer/early fall ragweed is the most common cause of fall allergies. Depending on where you live, ragweed-fueled fall allergies can start in August or September and continue through October and possibly November. Pollen grains are lightweight and spread easily, especially on windy days. The more wet and windy autumn is in your area, the more easily the pollen spreads, and the worse your symptoms will feel

October

Chances that fall allergies will ease by October get better the farther north you go in the United States. But in warmer climates, fall allergies can linger well into this month. Seasonal rain and wind can also ramp up mold spores — if your fall allergies include mold or fungi spores, your symptoms may linger.

November

The ragweed pollen season usually ends by mid-November in most areas of the country. If you have fall allergies and react to fungi and molds, you probably face your worst symptoms in late summer and early fall. Although you might feel miserable from the end of March until November, making it seem like you have year-round allergies, you should get a break now. November may be one of the best months for people with outdoor allergies, which allows for enjoying the crisp weather. Then, just in time, indoor allergies to pet dander and indoor molds pick up.

December

As pretty as they are, real Christmas trees can make you wheeze and sneeze. It's likely not the tree itself that triggers allergies but the microscopic mold spores that can harbor in its branches. If you can't resist buying a live tree despite winter allergies, take it home a week before you plan to decorate it and leave it in a garage or an enclosed porch. Then give it a good shake to try to get rid of any spores.

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By Beth W. Orenstein
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
everydayhealth.com