Conference Coverage

Severe, uncontrolled asthma patients must avoid subcutaneous immunotherapy



Asthma that’s severe and uncontrolled when a patient receives subcutaneous immunotherapy appears to be the “major factor” causing higher-grade systemic reactions or death from this treatment, David I. Bernstein, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Dr. David I. Bernstein, professor of medicine, University of Cincinnati Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. David I. Bernstein

While that was Dr. Bernstein’s top take-home message on how to optimize tolerability of subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), a few other empiric rules have also emerged from his ongoing analysis of survey results from the AAAAI/American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology SCIT surveillance study. The study began tracking the safety of SCIT in 2008 through annual surveys sent to members of either of these two allergy societies. By early 2019, the surveys had gathered data from more than 55 million office visits for SCIT, with responses from roughly 200-500 allergy practices annually, said Dr. Bernstein, professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

The survey results identified seven SCIT-related fatalities over about a decade of surveillance. The most common risk factor among these cases was severe, uncontrolled asthma, prompting Dr. Bernstein to conclude that these patients should not receive SCIT. “If the asthma is well controlled, then SCIT is fine,” even if it had been severe before treatment, he said in an interview.

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