RAGWITEK™, an allergy immunotherapy tablet for the treatment of signs and symptoms of ragweed allergy, is now available in Canada

Runny nose; sneezing; itchy nose, throat, or eyes; and congestion: An estimated 20% to 25% of the Canadian population suffer from allergic rhinitis1

KIRKLAND, QC, May 15, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - 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

"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 www.merck.ca.

Forward Looking Statement
This website includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; Merck's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck's patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck's 2012 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (www.sec.gov).

The news release is available at www.cnw.ca.
PHOTO and caption available here.

1 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: www.aacijournal.com/content/8/1/7 [Accessed 2014-04-23].
2 RAGWITEK Product Monograph, Merck Canada Inc., April 23, 2014. Page 3
3 RAGWITEK Product Monograph, Merck Canada Inc., April 23, 2014. Page 12
4 RAGWITEK Product Monograph, Merck Canada Inc., April 23, 2014. Page 7
5 American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, 2013. Allergic Reactions: Tips to Remember [Online] Available at: www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/whatisallergicreaction.stm [Accessed 2014-04-23].
6 Allergy/Asthma Information Association, 2008. Allergic Rhinitis [Online] Available at: www.aaia.ca/en/allergic_rhinitis.htm [Accessed 2014-04-23].
7 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


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