Information updates

Online allergy testing

1 July 2020

ASCIA does NOT recommend online allergy testing.

Evidence-based tests and treatments for allergic disease can greatly improve the management of allergic disease and  quality of life. In contrast, the use of unscientific methods (including online allergy testing), that claim to test for, or treat allergies can result in misdiagnosis and ineffective treatments. 

Online tests and treatments for allergies/intolerances are NOT recommended for the following reasons: 

  • Use of unscientific methods for allergy/intolerances can result in misdiagnosis and ineffective treatments, which lead to potential harm, additional healthcare encounters, increased costs for the patient or carer and a greater burden on the healthcare system.
  • Unscientific tests for food intolerances can lead to unnecessary food restrictions that cause nutritional problems in adults and children, and growth issues in children.
  • Evidence-based allergy tests should only be ordered, performed and interpreted in the context of a clinical history, by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist, other doctor or nurse practitioner who are trained in allergy.
  • Evidence-based allergy treatments should only be prescribed following the interpretation of allergy test results in the context of a clinical history, by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist, other doctor or nurse practitioner who are trained in allergy.

The problems associated with therapeutic goods, services, or devices which claim to diagnose or treat allergies are addressed in recommendation 24 in the Report from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis, which states: The Committee recommends that the Therapeutic Goods Administration and any other relevant authorities, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) conduct an independent, evidence-based review into all therapeutic goods, services, or devices which claim to diagnose or treat allergies. 

To view the Report go to: 
Inquiry Into Allergies and Anaphylaxis: Walking The Allergy Tightrope 

To view the ASCIA submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis go to: 
www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports#s1

For information about evidence based allergy tests and treatments go to:

www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-testing

www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-treatment

For information about unscientific methods go to:

www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-testing/unorthodox-testing-and-treatment   

Medical Research and the Report from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis

Updated 1 July 2020

The Australian Government’s recognition of the importance of medical research into allergies and anaphylaxis is highlighted in the report from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis, tabled in Parliament on 15 June 2020. www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/info-updates/inquiry-into-allergies-and-anaphylaxis-report-15-june-2020

Implementing the recommendations in the report will lead to improved outcomes for patients and the community, including research into causes and treatment of allergies and anaphylaxis. This is consistent with the aim of the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA), which has supported research into allergy and other immune system disorders since 2014.

AIFA is an initiative of ASCIA, which was recognised in the report as having a pivotal and leading role in improving the care of people with allergic disease. AIFA has made an ongoing commitment to support researchers working on the complexities of the immune system, including allergic disease. Their work is fundamental to finding new treatments.

In 2020 AIFA will award a total $110,000 to allergy and immunology research, and the closing date for expressions of interest is 28 August 2020For details go to  www.allergyimmunology.org.au/grants

To make a donatation for 2021 AIFA grants go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au/donate

Thank you to our generous donors and sponsors who have made the following 2020 AIFA grants possible:

  • $40,000 - AIFA Food Allergy Research Grant
  • $30,000 - AIFA Allergy (other than food allergy) or Autoimmunity Research Grant
  • $15,000 - AIFA Primary Immunodeficiencies Clinical Research Grant (supported by CSL Behring)
  • $15,000 - AIFA Hereditary Angioedema Clinical Research Grant (supported by CSL Behring)
  • $10,000 - AIFA Food Allergy Research Grant (supported by DBV Technologies)

At a time when medical research is more important than ever, we believe that the annual AIFA grants play a vital role, by providing seed funding, encouraging emerging researchers and promoting more allergy and immunology research in Australia and New Zealand.

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Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis - Report Released

Updated 1 July 2020

The Report on the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis Walking the allergy tightrope - Addressing the rise of allergies and anaphylaxis in Australia was tabled on Monday 15 June 2020 in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.  pdfWalking the allergy tightrope1.15 MB

ASCIA welcomes the recommendations in the Report and the recognition of ASCIA’s pivotal and leading role in improving the care of Australians with allergic disease. 

ASCIA takes this opportunity to thank the Health Minister, Hon Greg Hunt MP for the continued recognition, acknowledgement and support of issues regarding allergies and anaphylaxis by the Australian government, which led to his announcement of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis at the national ASCIA Conference in September 2019.

ASCIA also thanks the Committee Chair, Trent Zimmerman MP, Deputy Chair, Dr Mike Freelander MP, panel members including Dr Katie Allen MP, and the committee Secretariat for their excellent work in conducting this Inquiry, as well as the individuals and organisations who made submissions to the Inquiry.

ASCIA is looking forward to working closely with the Australian Government over the coming months in response to the Report recommendations. 

To view the Australian Government media release about the Report go to:
 
To view the Report go to: 

To view the ASCIA submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis, the ASCIA opening address to the Inquiry hearing and the ASCIA pre-budget 2020-2021 submission go to www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports#s1

Whilst ASCIA supports all of the recommendations in the Report, we believe that implementing certain key recommendations as a priority will address major issues and result in significant improvements to the health of Australians with allergic disease, with immediate and long term impact. We have grouped the relevant issues along common ‘themes’ as shown in the table below.

 Issues

Report recommendations

Education, Training and Resources for Health Professionals

5

Access to Care – Workforce, Telehealth and MBS Item Numbers 

6, 7, 8, 13, 23

Collaborations and Research

1, 2

Implementation of these Report recommendations (listed below) will:

  • Improve education and training in allergies and anaphylaxis for health professionals.
  • Improve access to care through workforce, telehealth and item number changes.
  • Standardise allergy care and management to improve the quality of patient care.
  • Increase research into allergies and anaphylaxis.
Education, Training and Resources for Health Professionals

Recommendation 5:

The Committee recommends that the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) receive ongoing long term funding to continue its partnership work with the Department of Health and the National Allergy Strategy, to develop minimum standards of allergy training for health professionals including:

  • funding for the promotion of the e-resources ASCIA has already developed to all relevant communities throughout Australia;
  • minimum standards of allergy training in the curriculum for all university medical schools and training of general practitioners, physicians and paediatricians, nurse practitioners, psychologists, dietitians, and paramedics; and
  • funding support for ASCIA to provide training for all health professionals listed above.
Access to Care – Workforce, Telehealth and MBS Item Numbers

Recommendation 6 

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government provide telehealth funding support for doctors and allied health workers in order to provide professional services and support to allergy patients in rural, regional and remote Australia.

Recommendation 7  

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider a Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) item number for food challenges carried out by appropriate clinicians.

Recommendation 8  

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government provides funding for a public health system drug de-labelling program including:

  • developing a program in the public health system to run community education campaigns to encourage people to participate in drug allergy de-labelling programs;
  • create clinical guidelines for drug allergy de-labelling; and
  • give consideration to the need for a Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) item number for drug allergy testing and drug allergy challenges.

Recommendation 13

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work with states and territories to:

  • review the sufficiency of the current allergist and immunologist workforce in hospitals throughout Australia; and
  • ensure that there is funding for increased placements of these specialists in all hospitals (if a need is found).

Recommendation 23  

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government give consideration of how best to increase the utilisation of nurses and allied health care workers to support the care of patients with allergic disease.

Collaborations and Research

Recommendation 1 

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work with the states and territories to establish a National Centre for Allergies and Anaphylaxis in Australia, to ensure there is a national standardised approach to allergy management.  

Recommendation 2  

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government dedicate additional funding into food allergies and anaphylaxis research, in particular funding for:

  • the Centre for Food and Allergy Research (CFAR) so it can continue its work past 2022 (if Recommendation 1 has not been implemented by expanding CFAR to become a National Centre for Allergies and Anaphylaxis);
  • clinical research into food allergy treatments (including allergies outside of peanut allergy) in particular into food based oral immunotherapy, including head-to-head trials (trials with no placebo);
  • research into emerging allergic diseases such as eosinophilic oesophagitis and food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES);
  • research into the social and psychological effects of allergies and anaphylaxis; and
  • establishing a national register for anaphylactic episodes and death.

New ASCIA Guide for Milk Substitutes in Cow's Milk Allergy

15 June 2020

ascia guide for milk substitutes 2020Breastfeeding is recommended for the multiple benefits it brings to both the mother and child. If breastfeeding is not possible, the new ASCIA Guide for Milk Substitutes in Cow's Milk Allergy can assist health professionals in recommending substitute milks when an infant has cow’s milk allergy. This document also provides guidance about safe, nutritionally equivalent alternatives if a particular specialised formula is not available due to supply issues.

This guide has been prepared and reviewed by the ASCIA dietitians and paediatric committees, and is now on the ASCIA website: www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/guide-for-milk-substitutes-cows-milk-allergy

Information for patients about cow’s milk allergy is also available on the ASCIA website:

www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts/cows-milk-dairy-allergy

www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/cows-milk-dairy-allergy

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New ASCIA Eczema and Food Allergy Fast Facts

15 June 2020

ASCIA Fast Facts 2020Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an immune system disorder caused by an abnormal skin barrier, skin dryness and inflammation. People with eczema often have other allergic conditions, including food allergy.

In response to requests for more information about eczema and food allergy, ASCIA has developed a new ASCIA Eczema and Food Allergy Fast Facts, which is now on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts/eczema-and-food-allergy

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New and updated ASCIA COVID-19 resources

18 May 2020

Public health measures implemented by Australian and New Zealand governments have been successful in controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This means that plans are being made in most regions to re-open schools for face to face learning.

In response to this, ASCIA has developed new information about  COVID-19, Immunodeficiency and School Attendance for parents and carers, to guide decisions about school attendance for children with primary immunodeficiency (PID) during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The following information has also been updated, to reflect the easing of some restrictions in mid May 2020:

Following the release of the ASCIA Position Statement - Specific Treatments for COVID-19 in April 2020, ASCIA wrote to the Australian government regarding potential of immune blockers in treatment of COVID-19. To view this letter and other ASCIA submissions go to www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports#s1

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AIFA grant EOI deadline is now 28 August 2020

27 April 2020

In recognition that many potential AIFA grant applicants have less discretionary time in 2020 due to the demands from COVID-19, the AIFA grant EOI deadline (previously 15 April 2020) has been deferred.

The revised dates for the AIFA 2020 grant process are as follows:

  • EOIs due: 28 August 2020 (using the form at www.allergyimmunology.org.au/grants)
  • Shortlist announced: 30 September 2020
  • Full grant applications due: 30 October 2020
  • Grant recipients announced: 15 December 2020

In 2020 AIFA will award a total $110,000 to immunology/allergy research via the following grants: 

  • $40,000 - AIFA Food Allergy Research Grant
  • $30,000 - AIFA Allergy (other than food allergy) or Autoimmunity Research Grant
  • $15,000 - AIFA Primary Immunodeficiencies Clinical Research Grant (supported by CSL Behring)
  • $15,000 - AIFA Hereditary Angioedema Clinical Research Grant (supported by CSL Behring)
  • $10,000 - AIFA Food Allergy Research Grant (supported by DBV Technologies)

We take this opportunity to thank our generous donors and sponsors of the 2020 AIFA grants.

At a time when medical research is more important than ever, we believe that the annual AIFA grants play a vital role, by providing seed funding, encouraging emerging researchers and promoting more immunological research in Australia and New Zealand. We welcome donations for the 2021 AIFA grants, which should proceed with the usual timeline, with grants being presented at the ASCIA 2021 Conference in Melbourne in September 2021.

We look forward to receiving the 2020 AIFA grant EOIs.

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