1 What is Grastek?

Brand: Grastek

Generic: Timothy Grass Pollen Allergen Extract

Grastek is an allergen extract which is used as a management of symptoms of grass pollen allergic rhinitis which can be either with or without conjunctivitis.

It is used as an immunotherapy. This confirmation is done by skin tests that are performed by using grass pollen timothy extract.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription. This product is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Tablet

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Grastek, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. Your doctor will consider these risks before prescribing the drug and will inform you about them.

Following factors should be considered before taking this drug:

  • Allergies: If you have had an allergic reaction to this drug in the past, inform your doctor. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any other drugs or food products.
  • Age-specific problems: The data regarding the effects of this medicine specific to the pediatric age group is not yet available. Its safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 5 years of age. The studies specific to the geriatric age group have not been carried out, therefore its safety and efficacy have not been established in older age group. However, geriatric population is more prone to having kidney, liver and heart problems.
  • Pregnancy: Regarding the safety of usage of this drug during pregnancy, it comes under “B” category, which means that clinical trials on animals have revealed no harmful effects to the developing fetus or relevant studies have not been performed.
  • Drug Interactions: Certain drugs should not be used together because they can interact inside the body which can have a harmful effect. On the other hand, certain drugs are allowed to be used together. So, you should tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking. If there is a chance of interaction between those two drugs, the doctor may change the dose or may prescribe an alternative drug. Furthermore, certain medications should not be taken with alcohol or tobacco, which may also result in harmful interactions. Ask your doctor about the concurrent use of this drug along with alcohol or tobacco.

You should also inform your doctor about any other medical condition you may be suffering from, especially:

  • Asthma, severe, unstable, or uncontrolled
  • Allergy to gelatin, mannitol, or sodium hydroxide
  • Sublingual allergen immunotherapy,
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis, history of
  • Angina (severe chest pain), unstable
  • Systemic allergic reaction, severe, history of
  • Breathing or lung problems (eg, COPD)
  • Arrhythmia (heart rhythm problem)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart attack,
  • Mouth ulcers or thrush
  • Dental extraction
  • Oral surgery

3 Proper Usage

To use Grastek properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. The first dose of Grastek is usually applied in a hospital setting. After taking the dose you or your child is monitored for 30 minutes for any type of allergic reaction. After that dose, you can take the next doses at you home. It should be started at least 3 months before the grass pollen season. 

To avoid adverse effects, this drug should be used exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not overuse or misuse this drug and do not use it longer than the recommended time. Read all the instructions mentioned in the medication guide. This medicine should be taken with food in order to enhance its absorption in the gut.

Do not miss any dose. The dose of this drug varies according to the condition of each person. The number of doses per day, the time interval between the doses and the length of time you have to take the medicine depends on your condition individually and all these factors should only be determined by your healthcare provider. Follow each and every instruction of your doctor and also read the label carefully.

In case you miss one dose of this drug, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your subsequent dose, you can then skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

Storage: This medicine should be stored at room temperature within a closed container, away from heat, direct light, and moisture. Keep this drug out of the reach of children. Do not store expired or outdated medicines or the medicine no longer needed.

4 Precautions to Take

In using Grastek, you must be careful and take some precautions as advised by your doctor. This medication can result in severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is an emergency and needs an immediate medical attention. This medicine can also increase your risk of getting eosinophilic esophagitis.

It is important for your doctor to monitor the response to medicine and look for any side effects. Therefore, regular follow-up is necessary during and after the treatment. Contact your doctor if your symptoms have not improved even after taking the full course of treatment.

Avoid taking any other medicine unless thoroughly discussed with your doctor. Always ask your doctor before using any prescription, non-prescription or herbal medicine.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Grastek. Although these side effects may occur only in a handful of patients but if they do occur, contact your physician immediately.

This medication is associated with following side effects:

  • numbness or tingling feeling around the mouth
  • itching of the ears, mouth, or tongue
  • swelling of the mouth
  • sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • chest discomfort
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • redness, swelling, or soreness of the tongue or in the mouth
  • hives or welts, itching, or skin rash
  • swelling of the lips
  • runny nose
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • tightness in the chest
  • cough
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • fast heartbeat
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • sweating

Seek medical help instantly, if you experience any of these symptoms while on lanthanum. Also contact your health care professional immediately, if have overdosed on this drug.

If any of these side effects becomes more bothersome or does not go away, contact your doctor.