Information updates

Updated and New ASCIA Information about Evidence-Based Versus Non Evidence-Based Allergy Tests and Treatments

Allergy is a science based medical speciality which relies on the use of ‘evidence-based’ allergy tests and treatments. This means that there needs to be published evidence that a test or treatment is reliable, based on studies of other patients with similar conditions.

Accurate diagnosis of allergic disorders requires an examination of the patient’s clinical history by a qualified medical practitioner, to determine whether allergy or another immune condition is likely to be the cause of symptoms, combined with reliable evidence-based allergy tests to confirm the diagnosis. Evidence-based treatments can then be prescribed and management strategies advised, based on the diagnosis.

ASCIA strongly recommends against the online allergy testing and non evidence-based, unproven allergy ‘tests’ and “treatments”, which can result in adverse outcomes, including:

  • Major dietary restrictions that can impair growth and cause malnutrition, particularly in young children.
  • Impact on employment and social functioning, due to unnecessary avoidance of foods. environmental allergens and chemicals.
  • Delayed access to more effective diagnostic tests and treatments, with lost productivity from inadequately controlled allergic disease.

ASCIA has developed the following information about Evidence-Based Versus Non Evidence-Based Allergy Tests and Treatments, to assist patients, consumers, carers and health professionals to choose evidence-based, proven allergy tests and treatments:

These documents replace the old ASCIA documents about “unorthodox” allergy tests and treatments. The word “unorthodox” has been retained in the documents to describe “unorthodox/alternative practitioners”, but tests and treatments are now referred to as “non-evidence-based” instead of “unorthodox”.

Further information about allergy testing is available on the ASCIA website:

New and Updated ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

The following two new ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs have been added to www.allergy.org.au/patients/ascia-covid-19-vaccination-faq, in response to questions about the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

FAQ 3: Does mRNA which is used in the Pfizer vaccine integrate into our own DNA? 

No. The mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is only taken up in the body of our cells, known as the cytoplasm, and is then quickly destroyed. The mRNA is not taken up in the nucleus of our cells, which contains our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The mRNA is coded to instruct our cells to produce the non-infectious SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein, which triggers an immune response to the spike protein, ready to protect you if you encounter the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. 

FAQ 4: Will we become infected with the chimpanzee adenovirus that is used in the AstraZeneca vaccine?

No. The adenovirus in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is the vehicle (like a taxi or uber) that carries the genetic material of the non-infectious SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein into the body of our cells, known as the cytoplasm. This causes our cells to produce the spike protein, which triggers an immune response to the spike protein, ready to protect you if you encounter the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The adenovirus cannot reproduce in humans and is destroyed.

Another recent addition to the ASCIA COVID-19 FAQ (17) and Position Statement is the addition a link to the following publication: 

COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy has been developed by the Australian Government and is available at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-covid-19-vaccination-decision-guide-for-women-who-are-pregnant-breastfeeding-or-planning-pregnancy

The following information is unchanged, but has been highlighted in bold in the FAQ (2) and Position Statement:

This is in response to recent media reports about a very small number of possible allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, which may have caused unwarranted alarm for some people:

COVID-19 vaccines approved and available in Australia and New Zealand are not live-attenuated vaccines and are safe for people with immune system disorders, including allergy, immunodeficiency or autoimmune conditions.  Allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare. However, if there is a high risk of an allergic reaction to one of the vaccines, it may be possible to have another vaccine, subject to availability and medical advice.  

As stated in the ASCIA Position statement about Allergy and COVID-19, vaccinations in the community should have a post-vaccination observation period of 15 minutes.  A post-vaccination observation period of 30 minutes should only be required in people who have: 

  • Immediate (within four hours) and generalised symptoms of a possible allergic reaction without anaphylaxis to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Generalised allergic reaction (without anaphylaxis) to one of the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered (Pfizer-PEG or AstraZeneca-Polysorbate 80).
  • Prior history of anaphylaxis to previous vaccines and/or multiple drugs (injectable and/or oral) where ingredients such as PEG or polysorbate 80 may conceivably be the cause.
  • A known systemic mast cell activation disorder with raised mast cell tryptase, that requires treatment.

Further information

ASCA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) COVID-19 Vaccination (patients, consumers, carers) www.allergy.org.au/patients/ascia-covid-19-vaccination-faq

ASCA Position Statement COVID-19 Vaccination (health professionals)www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/ascia-hp-position-statement-covid-19-vaccination

ASCIA Guide Allergy and COVID-19 Vaccination (health professionals)www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/guide-allergy-and-covid-19-vaccination

ASCIA Guide Immunodeficiency, Autoimmunity and COVID-19 Vaccination (health professionals) www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/guide-immunodeficiency-autoimmunity-and-covid-19-vaccination

ASCIA COVID-19 webpage www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19  

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International Women's Day

8 March 2021

International Womens Day ASCIA Presidents

On International Women's Day we celebrate ASCIA's female leadership and members.

Pictured left to right: ASCIA Past Presidents Prof Connie Katelaris AM, Prof Jo Douglass and Dr Melanie Wong (now Chair of the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia) with current ASCIA President Prof Michaela Lucas.

More than 60% of ASCIA's members are women, who are professionals working to improve health outcomes for people with allergy and other immune diseases across Australia and New Zealand. Our members include clinical immunology/allergy specialists, immunology/allergy trainees, other medical practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians and  scientists. 

The ASCIA team manage the ASCIA Conference and develops world-leading online educational resources under the leadership of our CEO Jill Smith. We work together with ASCIA committees and working parties, as well as our webmasters (Impagination), conference organisers (ICMSA) and graphic designer (Rachael Hopkins).

www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia

www.allergy.org.au/members/committees 

We are also proud of the National Allergy Strategy partnership with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA). Dr Preeti Joshi represents ASCIA as co-chair of this initiative.  https://nationalallergystrategy.org.au

Anapen® is TGA approved and recommended by PBAC for PBS Listing

Anapen 300®, Anapen 500® and Anapen 150 Junior® (Anapen Junior) adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjectors have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the treatment of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions). 

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has recommended the General Schedule Authority Required Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of Anapen 300®, Anapen 500® and Anapen 150 Junior®. The Public Summary Documents from the November 2020 PBAC meeting are now available.

It is expected that Anapen 300®, Anapen 500® and Anapen 150 Junior® will be available in Australia on the PBS in September 2021. 

In preparation for the updating of ASCIA resources and e-training courses by July 2021, ASCIA has developed:

PBS listing of Dupixent (dupilumab) for severe atopic dermatitis

From 1st March 2021, Dupixent (dupilumab) is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in Australia for the treatment of patients, 12 years and above, with severe atopic dermatitis, who have failed to respond to optimally prescribed topical treatments.

Dupixent is a fully-human monoclonal antibody that inhibits the signaling of the interleukin4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) proteins, and is not an immunosuppressant. Data from Dupixent clinical trials have shown that IL-4 and IL-13 are key drivers of the type 2 inflammation that plays a major role in atopic dermatitis. Type 2 inflammation is the common denominator behind a range of lifelong diseases, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and other allergic or atopic disorders, which appear to be disparate conditions but occur when the immune system overreacts to an allergen or pathogen.

Dupixent has been studied in more than 2,500 adult patients and 250 adolescent patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. Dupixent is also the only systemic treatment for uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that has been studied for up to three years in adults. The long-term safety profile of Dupixent observed in adolescents was consistent with that seen in adults with atopic dermatitis. 

Dupixent is jointly developed by Sanofi and Regeneron under a global collaboration agreement.

In Australia, Dupixent is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to treat moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in patients aged 12 years and over who are candidates for chronic systemic therapy. The medicine is available on the PBS for eligible patients from 1st March 2021, but will remain available on private prescription for Australians with moderate atopic dermatitis. Dupixent is not intended for episodic use.

Further information is available here pdfDupixent® PBS listed for severe atopic dermatitis145.40 KB 

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ASCIA 2021 Conference Update

The ASCIA 2021 Conference is being hosted as a virtual event from Wednesday 1st to Friday 3rd September 2021.

The ASCIA 2021 Conference website is being updated and registration will open in May 2021. In the meantime, a preliminary program summary, registration fees, abstract submission Information, a sponsorship-exhibition prospectus and further information is available on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/conferences/ascia-annual-conference

In 2022 the ASCIA Conference will be held as a hybrid event in Melbourne from Wednesday 31st August to Friday 2nd September, so please note these dates in your 2022 calendar. 

We look forward to your involvement in the ASCIA 2021 Conference.

Kind regards,

Prof Michaela Lucas     Jill Smith
ASCIA President      ASCIA CEO

On behalf of the ASCIA 2021 Conference committee.

ASCIA2021 VIRTUAL Header

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ASCIA and WAO COVID-19 vaccine updates

The ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ, Position Statement and webpage www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19 have been updated with the following publications:

The ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccine Position Statement has been updated to include the following wording:

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Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Reactions

Whilst the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis has included infographics for several years, the ASCIA website has not previously included images of signs/symptoms of allergic reactions.

To address this, an ASCIA webpage showing signs/symptoms of allergic reactions has been developed. This includes new infographics that were recently developed by ASCIA, and a weblink to an animation showing signs/symptoms of allergic reactions which is on the Allergy & Anaphylaxis website. 

A mobile friendly html version and a PDF (which can printed as a poster) are both available at www.allergy.org.au/hp/anaphylaxis/signs-and-symptoms-of-allergic-reactions

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