News Release

News Release
Media Contacts:
Marie-Christine Garon
Dominique Quirion
Sarah Bannoff
Runny nose; sneezing; itchy nose, throat, or eyes; and congestion:
An estimated 20% to 25% of the Canadian population suffer from allergic rhinitis1
Kirkland, Quebec – May 15, 2014 – A new treatment option is now available for
Canadian allergic rhinitis sufferers. RAGWITEK™ (Standardized Allergen Extract, Short
Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) Sublingual Tablet) is an immunotherapy treatment to
help manage ragweed allergies. It is indicated for reducing the signs and symptoms of
moderate to severe seasonal short ragweed pollen induced allergic rhinitis, with or
without conjunctivitis, in adults confirmed by clinically relevant symptoms for at least two
pollen seasons and a positive skin prick test and/or a positive titre to Ambrosia
artemisiifolia specific IgE, and who have responded inadequately, or are intolerant to
conventional pharmacotherapy.2
“Immunotherapy treatment retrains the immune system. By administering a standardized
dose of an allergen we can accustom the body to not react in an allergic way to
allergens such as ragweed pollen”, says Dr. Paul Keith, Allergist / Immunologist,
Associate Professor, Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Department of
Medicine, McMaster University. “Not only have these sublingual immunotherapy tablets
demonstrated excellent safety and efficacy profiles, they also represent a convenient
choice of treatment for our patients”.
Efficacy demonstrated during the first ragweed pollen season
For optimal results, the dosing should be initiated at least twelve weeks before the
ragweed pollen season and maintained throughout this period.3
-2“It is recommended to start this ragweed sublingual immunotherapy treatment at least
three months prior to the ragweed season and maintain daily dosing throughout the
season. The patient has to place the tablet under the tongue, where it will dissolve in
seconds, and after the first dose taken in the doctor’s office, this can be done at home”,
concludes Dr. Keith.
RAGWITEK™ has been approved for use in adults with efficacy and safety data
demonstrated in two clinical trials which involved 1349 patients 18 to 50 years of age
with short ragweed pollen-induced rhinoconjunctivitis.4
With this new treatment option, Merck Canada affirms its longtime commitment to
developing respiratory products that provide physicians with a wide range of treatment
options to help their patients suffering from allergies.
About allergies and allergic rhinitis
Caused by the immune system over reacting to a normally harmless substance called an
allergen, allergic rhinitis sufferers can experience symptoms such as sneezing, nasal
congestion, a runny nose, itchiness in the nose, throat, eyes and ears.5
Approximately 20% to 25% of the Canadian population suffers from allergic rhinitis, an
inflammatory disease of the nasal mucous membranes whose prevalence is increasing
worldwide.1 Often starting in childhood and persisting into adult life,6 allergic rhinitis can
have an impact on the sufferers’ social life, school performance, and work productivity.7
About Merck
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is
known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription
medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products,
we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative
health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to
healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more
information about our operations in Canada, visit
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The news release is available at
Keith, P., Desrosiers, M. et al, 2012. The Burden of Allergic Rhinitis (AR) in Canada: Perspectives of
Physicians and Patients, Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology [Online] Available at: [Accessed 2014-04-23].
RAGWITEK Product Monograph, Merck Canada Inc., April 23, 2014. Page 3
RAGWITEK Product Monograph, Merck Canada Inc., April 23, 2014. Page 12
RAGWITEK Product Monograph, Merck Canada Inc., April 23, 2014. Page 7
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, 2013. Allergic Reactions: Tips to Remember [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 2014-04-23].
Allergy/Asthma Information Association, 2008. Allergic Rhinitis [Online] Available at: [Accessed 2014-04-23].
Brozek, J. L., Bousquet, J. et al. Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) Guidelines: 2010
Revision. Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology Vol. 126(3), pp. 466-476