Who Can Help Them?
For over 50 years, the worldwide prevalence of allergic diseases has continued to rise, with sensitization rates to one or more common allergens among school children approaching 40%-50%.5 In 2010, 11.1 million visits to physician offices resulted with a primary diagnosis of allergic rhinitis.4 By 2012, within the previous 12 months, 7.5% (17.6 million) of adults were diagnosed with hay fever and 10.6% (7.8 million) of children reported respiratory allergies.2,3 Today, allergic disease is ranked as the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, while the associated healthcare costs are estimated to be in excess of $18 billion.1
Fewer Allergy Healthcare Providers
In the US, the allergy epidemic is also compounded by a lack of qualified healthcare providers. In a 2012 report commissioned to evaluate the future of the allergy specialty, two concerning trends came to light: first, there was a steady decline in physicians choosing to specialize in allergy/immunology; second, a growing number of board-certified allergists began reaching retirement age. The net result was a ~5-10% reduction in qualified, practicing allergists in the US.6
More concerning data from the American Board of Allergy & Immunology (ABAI) reports that board certified allergists who are (a) participating in the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program and (b) currently meeting the program’s professional and educational requirements amounts to fewer than 2,700.7 This number represents less than 50% of all identified diplomats of the ABAI (last updated in October of 2015).
Allergy Testing & Treatment in the Primary Care Setting
It is estimated that the demand for allergy healthcare could increase by as much as 35% within the next 10 years.6 It is reasonable to assume then that primary care providers (PCs) will be called upon more and more to serve the growing allergic population.
While many routine allergic conditions can be managed in the primary care office by general practitioners8 (many of whom have been providing allergy diagnosis and treatment for several years, usually when specialists are too expensive or inconvenient), some of the more complex aspects of allergy testing and immunotherapy are often outsourced to allergy service providers. A 2014 survey found that PCs often rely on contracted entities (e.g. pharmacies) to manage the sterile compounding of allergy immunotherapy vials.9
These kinds of arrangements do not replace the need for board-certified allergists or immunologists, as they are still the best qualified to address several allergic conditions, including:
- Stinging Insect Allergy
- Severe Food Allergy
- Drug allergy
- Poorly controlled allergic asthma
- Other less common allergic & immunologic disorders
Find an Experienced Pharmacy
Selecting a pharmacy partner is crucial to a practice’s success when implementing allergy services. Innovation Compounding has a team of experts with decades of experience in sterile compounding and is one of the few PCAB-accredited pharmacies with expertise in allergy skin testing and immunotherapy.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on implementing an allergy program in your practice.
- Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2010. By Jeannine S. Schiller, M.P.H., Jacqueline W. Lucas, M.P.H., Brian W. Ward, PhD and Jennifer A. Peregory, M.P.H., Division of Health Interview Statistics.
- Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2012, table 2.
- National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2010 Summary Tables, table 13.
- World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary. By Prof. Ruby Pawankar, MD, PhD, Prof. Giorgio Walkter Canonica, MD, Prof. Stephen T. Holgate, BSc, MD, DSc, FMed Sci and Prof. Richard F. Lockey, MD.
- Malone, Michael A. "Allergy Primer for Primary Care." Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice 43.3 (2016): xv.
- Ryan, Matthew W., et al. "Current practice trends in allergy: results of a united states survey of otolaryngologists, allergist‐immunologists, and primary care physicians." International forum of allergy & rhinology. Vol. 4. No. 10. 2014.