The FDA is reportedly reviewing an application for a new type of allergy treatment.

The pill, developed by drugmaker Merck & Co., is designed to reduce symptoms of grass pollen allergies over time, rather than solely focus on relieving symptoms such as sneezing and itching.

The treatment is a tablet that dissolves under the tongue. This form of immunotherapy is designed to gradually desensitize the patient’s immune system to the allergen.

Although the treatment developed by Merck only targets grass pollen allergies, similar treatments are also in the works for food allergies, including peanut allergies.

Studies Show Success

According to Merck & Co., six late-stage studies involving nearly 3,500 participants found that the treatment successfully and safely reduced grass allergy symptoms during the peak spring and summer pollen season. Participants reported reduced symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.

Immunotherapy has been called a “major advance” in allergy treatment, according to Dr. Linda Cox, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. With the treatment, allergy sufferers “might need an occasional antihistamine” during grass pollen season “versus multiple medications and possibly an asthma flare-up.”

Merck said it expects the FDA to decide whether to approve the tablets by the first quarter of 2014.

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