21

My girlfriend is excited about an allergy treatment she's about to undergo. The product is sub-lingual allergy drops with the brand name "AllergyEZ." She's told me that her allergy doctor has told her that it is not FDA approved, but that it's been in use in Europe for decades and she's researched it and is confident that it is a good product.

The "not FDA approved" bit raises red flags to me as does the claim "but it's been used for decades;" these are key phrases I've heard for many snake oil products. My faith in this product isn't helped by the fact that a Google search for the brand name only yields links to the company's site, information relating to its domain name ownership, and links to doctors who support the product.

Have any of you heard of this type of allergy treatment or this particular brand? If so, how substantiated are their claims?

  • 2
    For now, it might help you to run a pubmed search for sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy. This is a process of slowly exposing the body to small amounts of an allergen over time in order to overcome it.This sort of therapy has been administered with some success for certain allergies by subcutaneous injection and has been legitimately studied.The sucess of this therapy varies depending on the individual and the allergy.It also requires the allergy to be specifically and correctly diagnosed before beginning it otherwise it will be worthless(though probably not very harmful). – Monkey Tuesday Apr 21 '11 at 5:44
  • However,as to this particular brand,I can find no information beyond what is put out by the company(red flag!)so I can't honestly decide yet if they are legitimate but poorly marketed,or they are trying to capitalize on the route of administration and not the medication.It may also be that this company knows that this process involves exposing people to natural allergens,and has found another crack in the FDA to sneak in an unregulated product.Long story short,still many questions.However I have just finished requesting information directly from the company.I'll post more when it comes in. – Monkey Tuesday Apr 21 '11 at 5:53
  • 1
    One more thing, just based on the company's website, I would say it's dubious, as it does not list any specific data beyond "testimonials", does not provide a listing of active or inactive elements, COMPLETE LACK OF SAFETY INFORMATION(!), and strangely there is not even a parent company listed. Just compare this site to a website for any approved drug like Viagra and decide for yourself how vaild you think their claims are. Cheers. – Monkey Tuesday Apr 21 '11 at 6:03
  • 1
    I'm a bit wondering about the safety implications, I thought immunotherapy was always performed under medical supervision due to the risk of anaphylaxis. – Mad Scientist Apr 21 '11 at 6:13
  • 1
    Thanks everyone for your input. I showed the question and answers to my GF, and she started looking at it skeptically now. She just sent me a link to this: phoenix.citysearch.com/profile/1663024/mesa_az/…. Notice the third reviewer mentions that Dr. Agren is not board certified as an allergist. – Jacob Apr 26 '11 at 0:30
24

The warning flags:

  • They have testimonials all over the place, but extremely little reference to any actual science.
  • The "works for everything" claim is an eerily common trait in bogus medicine, and proportionally rare among real medication

    You won’t find a more comprehensive allergy serum! Your daily drops will fortify you against all the world’s major allergens. No matter where you travel or how your environment changes, you’ll be protected. AllergyEZ.com

  • The science they do reference is a Cochrance Collaboration review, that examines whether or not sublingual immunotherapy is effective for treating allergic rhinitis. It does not specifically vindicate the efficacy of the product at hand as it:

    • Only examines the means of distributing the remedy. The fact that SLIT works at all does not validate one specific SLIT treatment.
    • Only looks at allergic rhinitis, whereas AllergyEZ claims to have a much broader scope, as mentioned above.
  • No side effects! The kind of bold claims they're making on their website without backing evidence is the kind of confidence you can only have if you don't have an active ingredient at all. How could a rigorous trial have been performed that found no side effects? To my knowledge, no evidence based medicine available can match that claim.

    All-natural and extremely safe (not associated with dangerous anaphylactic reactions). AllergyEZ for physicians

    ...

    While most traditional allergy shot programs require participants to be at least 7 years old, AllergyEasy works safely and effectively for children of all ages—infants and up! AllergyEZ for customers

  • The resources page includes some credible authorities on the subject, but visiting all of those sites, doing a search for "AllergyEZ" (except for pollen.com, where I did not easily find a search feature), yields no results at all. AllergyEZ lends credibility from other sources, that don't validate them at all.

  • No coverage whatsoever about the product, except for that created by themselves. All search results are about the company of the same name, and nothing except for this very page covers the validity of the treatment.

  • Another SLIT treatment called RevaiRx is suspiciously similar. The page indexed by Google says "How long will it take for patients to see results with Allergy EZ?", but the actual FAQ says the exact same thing, only "... results with RevaiRx":

    Google search result

    This appears to be a direct copy of the AllergyEZ press material, that Google indexed before they got around to even changing the product name. The two (supposedly) companies behind the different products share the same address in Stevensville, MT (RevaiRx, AllergyEz). It looks like they're trying to push the same product under different brand names. What's the rationale for doing that for a legitimate product?

Now, AllergyEZ.com was registered in October 2010, and RevaiRx in Jan 2011. This seems to be a rebranding issue, however. If you look at Allergyeasy.com (of which allergyez.com and myallergyeasy.com are mirrors), the website actually dates back to 2003. If we look at this brand name instead, there is at least some coverage:

The serum contains extracts of pollens, dust, molds, and pet danders in a saline solution. You will start with a very weak serum and over time you will gradually increase the concentration of the extracts. Your body will gradually tolerate higher concentrations of these extracts and you notice fewer allergy symptoms as the concentration of the extracts increases. NW Integrative Medicine

Also, Tacoma Naturopathic Care endorses Allergy Easy, citing the same "Endorsed by the World Health Organization as a viable, safe alternative to allergy shots", which is taken entirely out of context. The quote is not about Allergy Easy specifically but, just as with the Cochrane review, it only refers to SLIT in general:

WHO credibility
(source: myallergyeasy.com)

So there's an integrative medicine site and a naturopathy site endorsing AllergyEZ. That's all I've been able to find at the moment. Still no sight of scientific references that speficially put Allergy Easy on trial.

7

This is not an answer in itself, but it’s too big for a comment.

I just received a response from the company.

This is just as I received it, with the exception that I have removed names and the phone numbers included, I may add them later, once I am sure it won’t result in legal ramifications.

Thank you for recent visit to Revairx.com. We at Revairx are very excited about our product and what it can do to help your patients feel real, and permanent relief from their allergies and/or asthma. Revairx is 80% effective at treating patients with symptoms such as Eczema (including infants), conjunctivitis, rhinitis, animal allergies, headache, fatigue, chronic otitis, chronic sinusitis, chronic urticaria, etc... It is 90% effective with people suffering from asthma, and it is safe for all ages. Sublingual Immunotherapy has been around for over 100 years, and Revairx has been helping patients for over 25 years. I would love for the opportunity to speak to you live. Please feel free to call me on my cell phone [REMOVED] Thank you, [REMOVED] AllergyEZ Director of Sales and Marketing

Problems…

  • All of the obvious ones.
  • Lists a cell phone as a primary contact for the company.
  • The last name of the person who is identified as director of sales and marketing is the same as that of the person listed as living at the house in Montana shown by google earth when searching for the company’s address.

It’s fair to say that my level of suspicion has gone way past merely “dubious” with regards to this product.

I will be in contact with these individuals in an attempt to seek further information.

I am suspecting that I will likely be bringing this product and its claims to the attention of the appropriate regulatory agencies in the very near future.

1

Is SLIT an effective treatment?

Their website has a FAQ which contains the following claim:

In the world-renowned Cochrane Review, a meta-analysis reviewed 22 studies involving 979 patients on sublingual immunotherapy and concluded that sublingual immunotherapy is a safe treatment which reduces symptoms and medication requirements in allergic rhinitis. SLIT is also endorsed by the World Health Organization and the ARIA (Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma) guidelines.

I did check and the Cochrane Review did find positive results:

We included a total of 60 randomised controlled trials in the review. Forty-nine were suitable for pooling in meta-analyses [...]. Overall, we found a significant reduction in symptoms (SMD -0.49; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.64 to -0.34, P < 0.00001) and medication requirements (SMD -0.32; 95% CI -0.43 to -0.21, P < 0.00001) in participants receiving sublingual immunotherapy compared to placebo.

The active component of the product is serum, which I take to mean antiserum. Basically it is composed of the specific allergens tailored to one's particular allergies.

It is the same component used in subcutaneous injections and the therapy works based on the same science as those.

Sublingual immunotherapy is taken as drops or tablets, placed under the tongue 3 or more times/week, containing a specific allergen which interacts with the immune system to decrease allergic sensitivity.
source

Is Allergy EZ a scam company?

I still have a big question on the validity of AllergyEz itself: the serum should be custom-made based on the patient allergies, however I see no mention of this in the site. It may just be a crap site (it is certainly not very good as it's raising more than one eyebrow).

Finally, other answers claim this product is a scam. This is a completely different matter. They may claim that the product is X and in fact sell you Y -- similar to herbal V14gr@. This may be, and I would be cautious of products that are not marketed through mainstream means.

I've been investigating this a bit further.

  1. Just like Monkey Tuesday, I've also contacted the firm, see email here, [mirror for when mailinator purges it], [source for headers]

  2. With some digging around I discovered this company: "ALLERGY EZ, L.L.C.", registered in Hawaii.

  3. The manager of the company and the sales manager share the same surname. Are they related? Possibly yes.

  4. REVAIRX, the original brand mentioned in the email, is actually a registered trademark, which is actually a good sign - although it proves nothing.

  5. The trademark is registered to MILTON RAMSEY DOCTORS L.L.C. which is registered as a company in Mesa, AZ in the name of the same owner as ALLERGY EZ, L.L.C.. The interesting bit here is that it is registered as a domestic L.L.C.. [Articles of Organization].

  6. The address of Milton Ramsey Doctors is also a house (possibly now a funeral home?).

  7. Digging even further, more and more companies are appearing in Mesa (all with the same people, same signatures). See for example HORLACHER ACQUISITIONS, L.L.C.

So it is a family-owned business. It sounds quite fishy for a medical company, but I still don't have any proof that it is a scam, and I do think it could be either way for what I've found so far.

  • 2
    How can it not be a medication, if it is meant to treat a medical condition? They might be using some loophole, like e.g. supplements, but then they would have to be more careful about claiming medical effects. – Mad Scientist Apr 21 '11 at 6:08
  • 2
    The Cochrane review specifically studies the available data on whether or not sublingual immunotherapy is effective for allergic rhinitis. SLIT is just the means of distribution, so there's nothing in that review that specifically relates to this particular remedy. I haven't even been able to find any info on what the active ingredient in these drops are. Moreover, the AllergyEZ website says "You won't find a more comprehensive allergy serum! Your daily drops will fortify you against all the world's major allergens.", and does not limit itself to allergic rhinitis. – David Hedlund Apr 21 '11 at 6:17
  • 1
    @Sklivvz: yes, it's allergic therapy by placing something under the tongue. It's comparable to this Cochrane review assessing the efficacy of vaccines for a specific problem. The review is legitimate, but it doesn't validate a specific vaccine. – David Hedlund Apr 21 '11 at 6:58
  • 4
    @Skilvvz: You're saying you still have a big question on the validity of AllergyEZ itself; well the entire question is about the validity of AllergyEZ, so that's the only thing that's supposed to be on topic. No one here questions sublingual administration, but AllergyEZ are very vague about what they're doing, and seem to sell their product on the basis that other SLIT treatments are valid. If it's a serum by the definition we're used to, how can it cover "all the world's major allergens" and at the same time not incur risks of anaphylactic reactions? – David Hedlund Apr 21 '11 at 7:43
  • 2
    Very interesting... I may have to drive by and check out what's at that address. – Jacob Apr 25 '11 at 17:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .