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Allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is the treatment characterizing the allergological approach to respiratory allergy. Unfortunately, most available data from the literature and current practice indicate that pulmonologists do no consider AIT when choosing the treatment strategy in patients with asthma. Indeed AIT, from its introduction in 1911 to nowadays, was unceasingly improved and has accumulated clear evidence on its effectiveness. Moreover, AIT has a characteristic not shared by drugs in the capacity to modify the natural history of asthma, due to its immunologic mechanisms of actions, and thus also works after the treatment withdrawal. This also makes AIT a clearly cost-effective treatment over time. It is surprising that pulmonologists, for whom asthma is a major disease to manage, do not consider AIT when choosing the optimal treatment in single patients. The insufficient information on AIT and the availability of allergen extracts with less than good quality are likely to be the most important factors influencing such an attitude. The current development of standardized, pharmaceutical-grade products for AIT seems capable of making allergen extracts comparable to drugs and to stimulate a rethinking of AIT's role in the treatment of asthma in pulmonologists. A reappraisal of the significance of the allergen-specific bronchial challenge could represent a further factor suggesting AIT as a reliable option.

Citation

Cristoforo Incorvaia, Nicola Fuiano, Franco Frati. Allergen immunotherapy: how to balance the different views from pulmonologists and allergists? Immunotherapy. 2012 Aug;4(8):853-7

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PMID: 22947011

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