Image: Penicillin is one of many commonly prescribed drugs to which patients can have adverse reactions.
Millions of Americans suffer from drug sensitivities, and most patients are told they can’t use these medicines. Drug allergies are a major impediment to patient care, particularly in cases where people’s lives depend upon their ability to take the very drugs to which they are allergic. Desensitization is the process of decreasing a patient's sensitivity to an allergen over time by injecting gradually increasing amounts of the allergen. When this process is targeted toward enabling patients to tolerate medications to which they are allergic, it is called drug desensitization therapy.
The Montefiore Medical Center Drug Desensitization Program offers full evaluation services to treat both common and uncommon potentially life-threatening drug reactions. The Drug Desensitization Program is dedicated to the treatment of drug sensitivities in adult and pediatric patients and to the research of possible genetic and immunological causes for hypersensitivities as well as the development of future desensitization therapies.
The Montefiore Drug Desensitization Program offers tests to correctly diagnose whether or not a patient is hypersensitive to a particular drug. Skin prick and patch testing may be used to test for allergic sensitivity, and in vitro blood testing may be implemented in certain cases.
The Drug Desensitization Program's allergy/immunology faculty experts from Albert Einstein College of Medicine may then recommend a drug desensitization procedure designed to develop a state of tolerance in the immune system. Depending on the nature of the initial reaction, patients may undergo a rapid desensitization procedure starting with varying degrees of diluted medicine administered at small increments over a period of hours. In certain cases a graded challenge procedure may be implemented. Patients are supervised by the physician and a nurse and their symptoms are closely monitored. Most patients are able to take the medicines after these treatments.
Drug Desensitization Program faculty specialists treat adult and pediatric patients who may be referred by their physicians. Montefiore accepts Medicaid and Medicare as well as private insurance.
Elina Jerschow, MD, director of the Montefiore Drug Desensitization Program and assistant professor of Medicine (Allergy/Immunology) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was previously an associate director of Clinical Research at Merck Research Laboratories, evaluating patient reactions during different phases of the drug development trials. Dr. Jerschow completed a research fellowship in dermatologic immunology at the University of California, San Francisco as well as an internal medicine residency and a fellowship with extensive bench research in Allergy and Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In addition, Dr. Jerschow has been the co-principal investigator in a clinical trial at Einstein involving patients with persistent allergic asthma.
For more information about Montefiore’s Drug Desensitization Program or to refer a patient, contact Dr. Jerschow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-MED-TALK.