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Randomized controlled trial of a ragweed allergy immunotherapy tablet in North American and European adults.

BACKGROUND: In North America and Europe, millions of patients experience symptoms of allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis (AR/C) on exposure to ragweed pollen. The disease burden can be significant, with most patients relying on symptomatic medications without disease-modifying potential. However, novel sublingual immunomodulatory treatment options may potentially play an important role if efficacy and side effect profiles allow the convenience of self-administration.

OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated an allergy immunotherapy tablet (AIT; SCH 39641/MK-3641) for treatment of ragweed-induced AR/C in the first large randomized, double-blind multinational trial of this therapeutic modality for ragweed allergy.

METHODS: Adults (n = 784) with short ragweed-induced AR/C were randomly assigned to approximately 52 weeks of daily self-administered ragweed AIT of 1.5, 6, or 12 units of Ambrosia artemisiifolia major allergen 1 (Amb a 1-U) or placebo. Subjects could use as-needed allergy rescue medication. Symptoms and medications were recorded daily. The primary efficacy end point was total combined daily symptom/medication score (TCS) during peak ragweed season. Safety was monitored through adverse event diaries maintained through study duration.

RESULTS: During peak ragweed season, ragweed AIT of 1.5, 6, and 12 Amb a 1-U reduced TCS by 9% (-0.76; P = .22), 19% (-1.58; P = .01), and 24% (-2.04; P = .002) compared with placebo. During the entire season, ragweed AIT of 1.5, 6, and 12 Amb a 1-U reduced TCS by 12% (-0.88; P = .09), 18% (-1.28; P = .01), and 27% (-1.92; P < .001) compared with placebo. Treatment was well tolerated; no systemic allergic reactions occurred.

CONCLUSIONS: In this trial, ragweed AIT of 12 Amb a 1-U was effective and tolerable with a safety profile that permitted daily self-administration of ragweed allergen immunotherapy.

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