New specialty service at Montefiore Medical Center helps patients with drug allergies

March 01, 2016

Dr. Jerschow decided to test the patient's tolerance to aspirin through a process called "graded challenge," giving Ms. S. small doses of aspirin, beginning at a fraction of a regular dose.  She observed the patient for a reaction, then gave her one-fourth a normal dosage, and so forth until she gradually worked her way up to tolerating a full dosage - a process that took a day.  Ms. S. is now cleared to take aspirin and Ibuprofen to treat the pain and inflammation in her shoulder and hip, and is being tested for her tolerance to other NSAIDs. 

Dr. Jerschow is also treating Ms. Gladys D., a woman with gastro-intestinal problems and GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), caused by a common bacteria call H. pylori. As a child the patient went into shock when her physician prescribed the antibiotic penicillin, probably the most common drug to cause adverse reactions.  After a skin testing procedure, this patient's allergy to penicillin was confirmed. She initially took an alternative antibiotic to treat her H. pylori infection and had several weeks of treatment only to learn that her infection is not cured. The patient has been desensitized to penicillin by Dr. Jerschow who gave her extremely low doses (1:10,000 concentration) of penicillin at first, and then gradually increased these dosages over time.  The patient developed a tolerance and is now safely taking penicillin for GERD.

"It is not uncommon that people outgrow their allergies," said Dr. Jerschow.  "Without appropriate testing, however, it is not possible to know who still has it and who doesn't," she said.   

SOURCE Montefiore Medical Center