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Real-life study showing better control of allergic rhinitis by immunotherapy than regular pharmacotherapy

Volume: 54 - Issue: 3

Firstpage: 214 - Lastpage: 220

V. Droessaert - M. Timmermans - E. Dekimpe - S. Seys - J.J. Ceuppens - W.J. Fokkens - P.W. Hellings

BACKGROUND: Treatment for allergic rhinitis (AR) aims at reducing the burden of allergic inflammation, either by suppression of the nasal inflammation with pharmacotherapy or by inducing tolerance via immunotherapy (IT). At present, we lack information on the comparison between the degree of symptom control in AR patients treated with IT and those on pharmacotherapy.
AIMS: An observational study was conducted evaluating the degree of symptom control, the total and individual nasal symptom severity and current medication use at 3 years after starting either pharmacotherapy or subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) for AR.
METHODS: A total number of 800 patients diagnosed with AR between October 2007 and February 2010 at the Ear, Nose and Throat Unit and Allergology Clinical Department of the University Hospitals of KU Leuven, Belgium, were included. Among these patients, 120 had been started on IT at the time of their initial visit, and 680 were prescribed guideline-based pharmacotherapy. In 2013, patients were sent a questionnaire asking for the current severity of nasal symptoms using a visual analogue scale (VAS) score, duration of nasal symptoms and presence or absence of abnormal sleep, impairment of daily activities, sport, leisure, impaired functioning at work/school, troublesome symptoms, and current medication use. A VAS score for total nasal symptoms (TNS) was used to distinguish between controlled and uncontrolled AR.
RESULTS: An overall response rate of 54%. At 3 years after the initiation of the treatment, the IT group showed lower VAS scores for TNS than the pharmacotherapy group, with lower percentages of patients having a VAS score of equal or higher than 5. The IT group consisted of more patients with mild AR than the pharmacotherapy group despite the higher percentage of polysensitization at the onset of treatment in the IT group. 18% of the IT patients met the criteria of persistent AR whereas this was 51% amongst non-IT patients. Interestingly, 70% of IT patients did not use any medical treatment for AR anymore, whereas 61% of pharmacotherapy patients were still on medical treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: This observational study demonstrates that IT is associated with higher control of AR, reduced symptom severity and reduced medication use at 3 years after the onset of treatment. Therefore, this real-life study reinforces the clinical value of immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis.

V. Droessaert - M. Timmermans - E. Dekimpe - S. Seys - J.J. Ceuppens - W.J. Fokkens - P.W. Hellings - Real-life study showing better control of allergic rhinitis by immunotherapy than regular pharmacotherapy
Rhinology 54-3: 214-220, 2016