Prominent U.S. Senators Initiate Letter to Secretary Sebelius Regarding Immunotherapy

The AAAAI has been pushing for a multi-agency initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to examine the cost-effectiveness of allergy immunotherapy and methods to promote broader utilization. This effort got a significant boost in March, when a group of prominent U.S. Senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the topic.

The letter to Secretary Sebelius was initiated by Maryland Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Barbara Mikulski(D-MD), and co-signed by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The letter expressed concern that allergy immunotherapy is underutilized in the United States, stating:

It is important for agencies within your Department to proceed with the development of a comprehensive research initiative on the use of IT for the treatment of AR and asthma, including an effort to develop strategies to promote utilization in appropriate patients and encourage provider and patient education and compliance with existing guidelines.

The full letter can be viewed here.

Previously, a study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was published demonstrating that allergy immunotherapy is effective in reducing asthma, nasal allergy, and conjunctivitis symptoms; lowering the use of asthma medications; and improving patient quality of life. The Federally-funded study is available here.

In addition, several studies comparing immunotherapy with symptomatic treatment have demonstrated that it is extremely cost-effective but utilized by less than 10% of patients diagnosed with allergic rhinitis.

The AAAAI will continue working with Senator Cardin and others on this important issue, and AAAAI members will be informed of any relevant HHS funding initiatives.

From left to right: AAAAI President Linda Cox, MD, FAAAAI,
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) and AAAAI Board member
David M. Lang, MD, FAAAAI. Dr. Cox and Dr. Lang
participated in visits to Capitol Hill while in Washington, DC,
for the AAAAI Board of Directors meeting in November 2013

Dr. Cox and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa).

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology