Local doctors petition against watchdog proposal

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) – Tennessee Valley allergy sufferers who undergo immunotherapy could be impacted of a proposal to tighten regulations on allergy shots.

A medical watchdog group that works closely with the FDA is currently trying to get congress to place tighter regulations on allergy shots.

United States Pharmacopeia or USP is asking congress to make it illegal for immunotherapy medical providers to mix allergen extracts for their patients in the same medical office. Instead providers would be forced to either outsource the mixing at a sterile facility or pay thousands of dollars to build their own sterile facility.

The proposal comes after a 2012 incident in which tainted steroid injections from a New England compounding center killed 64 people and sickened more than 700.

Dr. Curt Chaffin of the Allergy and Asthma Group is one of many immunotherapy doctors across the United States who is opposing the proposal.

“Allergy shots have been mixed safely for more than 100 years at this point and there’s no reason to think that we need to change that from a safety standpoint,” Chaffin said.

Doctors at both the Allergy and Asthma Group and Chattanooga Allergy Clinic told News 12 that USP’s proposal would likely drive up the cost of immunotherapy for patients, especially patients on Medicare becasue Medicare doesn’t cover third party allergen extractions.

“None of our Medicare patients would be able to get immunotherapy which would raise cost for them. They’ll have more medications, more surgeries more ER visits; increased cost,” said Dr. Todd Levine of Chattanooga Allergy Clinic.

“Anytime the cost goes up you worry about insurance dropping the coverage,” said Dr, Chaffin.

News 12 spoke to Heather Case. She recently began immunotherapy at the Allergy and Asthma Group. Case was shocked to hear about the proposal.

“I think they should leave it as is. It’s very convenient for the patient by being mixed in the lab. I think if they didn’t know what they were doing then they wouldn’t be able to do it here,” Case said.

Doctors from both the Allergy and Asthma Group and Chattanooga Allergy Clinic have joined more than 6000 allergist and immunologist from across the U.S. who have petitioned against the proposal. Their goal is to collect 7500 petition signatures.

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