Canada approves Merck grass allergy immunotherapy

Canada approves Merck  grass allergy immunotherapy

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Canada approves Merck grass allergy immunotherapy

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Associated Press

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 4:51 PM

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) — Merck & Co. says it's won its first approval for its new immunotherapy tablet for grass allergies, from regulators in Canada.

The drug, called Grastek, gradually reduced allergic reactions to grass pollen, by desensitizing the immune system to the substance triggering the allergic reaction. Most allergy treatments just temporarily relieve sneezing, itching and other symptoms.

The world's third-biggest drugmaker, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., has partnered with ALK-Abello to market it in North America. ALK-Abello sells it in Europe as Grazas.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is weighing approval of both Grastek and an immunotherapy tablet for ragweed allergies. The tablets dissolve under the tongue and are taken daily for a year or so.

They could become an alternative to months of uncomfortable allergy shots.

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