PROPOSED Local Coverage Determination (LCD)

Allergen Immunotherapy

DL37800

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Proposed LCD
Proposed LCDs are works in progress that are available on the Medicare Coverage Database site for public review. Proposed LCDs are not necessarily a reflection of the current policies or practices of the contractor.

Document Note

Note History

Contractor Information

Proposed LCD Information

Document Information

Source LCD ID
L37800
Proposed LCD ID
DL37800
Original ICD-9 LCD ID
Not Applicable
Proposed LCD Title
Allergen Immunotherapy
Proposed LCD in Comment Period
Source Proposed LCD
Original Effective Date
N/A
Revision Effective Date
N/A
Revision Ending Date
N/A
Retirement Date
ANTICIPATED 12/29/2024
Notice Period Start Date
N/A
Notice Period End Date
N/A
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Issue

Issue Description

Reconsideration request received requesting to remove non-coverage language for ‘Multiallergen subcutaneous immunotherapy’. After evidence was reviewed, it was determined that this was a valid request as literature indicates that this is considered the standard of practice in the United States (U.S.). Therefore, the LCD has been revised accordingly. The reconsideration request also requested the removal of non-coverage language for ‘allergen immunotherapy for cockroach hypersensitivity’ and referenced an article by Wood et al (2014). However, the quality of evidence provided is insufficient to support allergen immunotherapy for cockroach hypersensitivity. Further research is needed to clarify the utility and efficacy of allergen immunotherapy for cockroach sensitivity. Therefore, the LCD has not been revised as requested.

Additionally, the reconsideration request requested the removal of non-coverage language for the following allergen immunotherapy routes of administration: ‘oral or sublingual for food immunotherapy and epicutaneous immunotherapy’. Per NCD 110.9, antigens must be administered by injection to be considered for coverage by Medicare; therefore, the LCD has not been revised as requested.

Issue - Explanation of Change Between Proposed LCD and Final LCD

CMS National Coverage Policy

This LCD supplements but does not replace, modify or supersede existing Medicare applicable National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) or payment policy rules and regulations for allergen immunotherapy services. Federal statute and subsequent Medicare regulations regarding provision and payment for medical services are lengthy. They are not repeated in this LCD. Neither Medicare payment policy rules nor this LCD replace, modify or supersede applicable state statutes regarding medical practice or other health practice professions acts, definitions or scopes of practice. All providers who report services for Medicare payment must fully understand and follow all existing laws, regulations and rules for Medicare payment for allergen immunotherapy services and must properly submit only valid claims for them. Please review and understand them and apply the medical necessity provisions in the policy within the context of the manual rules. Relevant CMS manual instructions and policies regarding allergen immunotherapy services may be found in the following Internet-Only Manuals (IOMs) published on the CMS Web site:

IOM Citations

  • CMS IOM Publication 100-02, Medicare Benefit Policy Manual,
    • Chapter 15, Sections 20.2 Physician Expense for Allergy Treatment, 50.4.4.1 Antigens, 60.1 Direct Personal Supervision, and 60.2 Services of Nonphysician Personnel Furnished Incident To Physician's Services
  • CMS IOM Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual,
    • Chapter 1, Part 2, Sections 110.9 Antigens Prepared for Sublingual Administration and 110.11 Food Allergy Testing and Treatment
  • CMS IOM Publication 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual,
    • Chapter 12, Section 200 Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy
  • CMS IOM Publication 100-08, Medicare Program Integrity Manual,
    • Chapter 13, Section 13.5.4 Reasonable and Necessary Provisions in LCDs

Social Security Act (Title XVIII) Standard References

  • Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Section 1862(a)(1)(A) states that no Medicare payment may be made for items or services which are not reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury.
  • Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Section 1862(a)(7). This section excludes routine physical examinations.

Coverage Guidance

Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity

Compliance with the provisions in this LCD may be monitored and addressed through post payment data analysis and subsequent medical review audits.

History/Background and/or General Information

Allergen Immunotherapy is defined as the repeated administration of specific allergens to individuals with IgE-mediated conditions to provide protection against allergic symptoms and inflammatory reactions associated with natural exposure to these allergens.1

Allergen immunotherapy should be considered for patients who have discernable evidence of specific IgE antibodies to clinically relevant allergens. The decision to begin allergen immunotherapy may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to, patient's preference/acceptability, adherence, medication requirements, response to avoidance methods, and the adverse effects of medications. The severity and duration of symptoms should also be considered when evaluating the need for allergen immunotherapy.1

The presence of IgE antibodies alone does not infer the need for immunotherapy; the presence of IgE antibodies to an allergen must correlate with the patient’s history.1 For example, the presence of IgE antibodies to an allergen not locally found, with no history of exposure or expectation of exposure, would not be considered clinically relevant.

In order for allergen immunotherapy to be considered medically reasonable and necessary both of the following criteria must be met:

  1. The allergen(s) to which the patient is allergic must be clinically relevant, and
  2. Trial of avoidance measures has failed or there is unavoidable exposure to allergy triggers identified in allergy testing.1

Covered Indications

Conditions for which immunotherapy will be considered medically reasonable and necessary include:

  1. Allergic rhinitis
  2. Allergic conjunctivitis
  3. Allergic asthma2-9
  4. Dust mite atopic dermatitis1,9-11
  5. Stinging insect hypersensitivity (e.g., bees, hornets, wasps, fire ants)1-9

Although all treatment regimens must be individualized for a given patient, immunotherapy generally has two phases. A build-up phase and a maintenance phase.

The build-up phase includes the initiation and subsequent increase of applicable antigen concentrations within 8-28 weeks. Usually a single dose increase is administered per visit and visits generally vary from 1-3 times per week. Accelerated timetables, also referred to as rush or cluster immunotherapy, involve giving several injections at increasing doses on a single visit.1,9

The maintenance phase occurs when the effective therapeutic dose is reached. This dose provides therapeutic effectiveness without significant adverse local or systemic consequences. This dose may not be the initial targeted concentration/dose. The maintenance immunotherapy schedule is generally every 4-8 weeks for venoms and every 2-4 weeks for inhalant allergens. Maintenance immunotherapy generally involves follow-up visits every 6-12 months.1,2,9

Length of Maintenance Therapy: The duration of all forms of immunotherapy must be individualized. A presumption of failure can be made when, after 12-24 months of therapy, a person does not experience:

  1. A noticeable decrease of symptoms,
  2. An increase in tolerance to the offending allergen, and
  3. A reduction in medication usage.

For many patients, the recommended duration of allergen immunotherapy is 3-5 years. However, the duration of immunotherapy should be individualized based on the benefits sustained from therapy, disease severity, immunotherapy reaction, patient preference and certain antigens in the therapy.1,2,9

Desensitization is the rapid administration of incremental doses of allergens or medications by which effector cells are rendered less reactive or nonreactive to an IgE-mediated immune response. Tolerance to medications can be achieved through desensitization.1  

Limitations

  1. Patients should not have substantial comorbid conditions that could increase immunotherapy risk (e.g., severe asthma uncontrolled by pharmacotherapy, significant cardiovascular disease).
  2. Patients on beta-blockers and/or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor medications must have individualized assessments of risk versus benefit prior to receiving inhalant or venom allergen immunotherapy.
  3. Patients should be able to cooperate during therapy.
  4. Please refer to the CMS IOM Publication 100-02, Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 15, Section 50.4.4.1 Antigens for additional limitations.
  5. Please refer to the CMS IOM Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, Chapter 1, Part 2 Sections 110.9 Antigens Prepared for Sublingual Administration and 110.11 Food Allergy Testing and Treatment for additional limitations.

 
Allergen immunotherapy is not considered medically reasonable and necessary for:

  1. Food hypersensitivity1,12-14
  2. Cockroach hypersensitivity1
  3. Urticaria and/or angioedema1,12,13
  4. Provocation-neutralization therapy1,13
  5. Low-dose subcutaneous therapy based on the Rinkel method6,12,13
  6. Therapy formulations, such as allergoids or adjuvants1
  7. The following routes of administration6,12,13:
    • Oral or sublingual for food immunotherapy
    • Epicutaneous immunotherapy
    • Intralymphatic immunotherapy
    • Intranasal immunotherapy
    • Sublingual Immunotherapy
  8. Immunotherapy for Hymenoptera venom sensitivity using whole-body extracts, with the exception of fire ant extracts.1,2,9

 
Place of Services (POS)

Immunotherapy may have severe unpredictable systemic and local reactions within the first 30 minutes following the injection. It is recommended that immunotherapy be administered in a setting that permits the prompt recognition and management of adverse reactions, particularly anaphylaxis. It is recommended that patients wait at the physician's office/medical clinic for at least 30 minutes after the immunotherapy injection.1,6,9

Home administration of allergen immunotherapy should only be considered in rare and exceptional cases when the benefits of immunotherapy clearly outweigh the risks. Frequent or routine home immunotherapy is not considered appropriate under any circumstances. If this method is utilized, informed consent should be attained from the patient and the individual administering the injection must be trained and equipped to recognize and manage immunotherapy reactions, particularly anaphylaxis.1

Provider Qualifications

Services will be considered medically reasonable and necessary when all aspects of care are within the scope of practice of the provider’s professional licensure, when performed according to the supervision requirements per state scope of practice laws, and when all procedures are performed by appropriately trained providers in the appropriate setting.

Notice: Services performed for any given diagnosis must meet all of the indications and limitations stated in this LCD, the general requirements for medical necessity as stated in CMS payment policy manuals, any and all existing CMS national coverage determinations, and all Medicare payment rules.  

Summary of Evidence

A literature search was conducted using the following key words: allergens; allergen immunotherapy; practice guidelines; practice parameters; meta-analysis; systematic review; allergic rhinitis; seasonal allergic rhinitis; allergic conjunctivitis; allergic asthma; inhalant allergies; routes of immunotherapy administration; subcutaneous immunotherapy; allergen-specific immunotherapy, atopic dermatitis; acute and chronic urticaria; skin rash; food allergies; stinging insect allergy; Hymenoptera; anaphylaxis.

Evidence-Based Guidelines

A Joint Task Force represented by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI); the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI); and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (JCAAI) has provided an updated practice parameter for allergen immunotherapy.1 Also, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) and the AAAAI provided an updated, comprehensive consensus report which includes the mechanisms of allergy immunotherapy and its use in clinical practice.6 In addition, the AAAAI and the ACAAI have provided a practice parameter update for stinging insect hypersensitivity.2  

Allergen immunotherapy is defined as the repeated administration of specific allergens to individuals with IgE-mediated conditions to provide protection against allergic symptoms and inflammatory reactions associated with natural exposure to these allergens. Immunotherapy is effective for pollen, animal allergens, dust mites, mold/fungi, and Hymenoptera hypersensitivity. Allergen immunotherapy should be considered for patients who have discernable evidence of specific IgE antibodies to these allergens.1  

The decision to begin allergen immunotherapy may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to, patient's preference/acceptability, adherence, medication requirements, response to avoidance methods, and the adverse effects of medications. The severity and duration of symptoms should also be considered when evaluating the need for allergen immunotherapy. Patient assessments should include a detailed clinical history, an applicable physical evaluation, and particular laboratory tests. Allergy testing results provide a conclusive diagnosis (e.g., immediate hypersensitivity skin tests, in vitro tests for serum specific IgE). When tests outcomes are positive for select IgE antibodies that align with likely triggers and patient exposure, immunotherapy is recommended; however, the manifestation of specific IgE antibodies alone does not infer the need for immunotherapy; the presence of IgE antibodies to an allergen must correlate with the patient’s history.1  

Many well-designed controlled trials show that allergen immunotherapy is effective for individuals with symptoms of allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis, allergic asthma and stinging insect hypersensitivity.2-9 Also, randomized trials demonstrate that allergen immunotherapy inhibits the development of asthma in individuals with allergic rhinitis.15 Several studies have also shown that aeroallergen immunotherapy may be beneficial for individuals with atopic dermatitis resulting from aeroallergen sensitization to dust mites.1,9-11

Venom immunotherapy (VIT) is recommended for individuals with a history of a systemic reaction to Hymenoptera stings who demonstrate Hymenoptera-specific IgE antibodies and exhibit large local reactions (LLRs). In this regard, measurements of serum tryptase levels are recommended in individuals with a history of moderate to severe anaphylactic reactions to stings. Studies have shown that greater serum tryptase levels are correlated with recurrent and severe systemic responses (including deadly reactions) to VIT injections, increased failure rates in VIT, and increased relapse rates with discontinuation of VIT. While venom extracts are available for honeybees, yellow jackets, white-faced hornets, yellow hornets, and wasps, there is currently no venom extract available for fire ants. However, literature supports the use of whole-body extract (WBE) to be used as a reagent for diagnostic testing and immunotherapy for fire ant sting allergy.1,2,9  

The provider prescribing immunotherapy should be trained and experienced in prescribing and administering immunotherapy. The prescribing provider must choose the applicable allergen extracts based on the patient’s medical history, allergen exposure history, and the presence of specific IgE antibodies. The prescription must indicate the initial dose, the target maintenance dose, and the immunotherapy schedule.1,2  

Immunotherapy treatments are generally separated into two phases; the build-up phase and the maintenance phase. The build-up phase (also referred to as updosing, induction, or dose-increase) involves gradually giving greater doses within 8-28 weeks. Usually a single dose increase is administered per visit and visits generally vary from 1-3 times per week. Accelerated timetables, also referred to as rush or cluster immunotherapy, involve giving several injections at increasing doses on a single visit. While accelerated timetables provide a means of reaching the therapeutic dose sooner, a greater risk of a systemic reaction is possible in some individuals.1,9  

The maintenance phase occurs when the effective therapeutic dose is reached. This dose provides therapeutic efficiency without significant adverse local or systemic consequences. This dose may not be the initial targeted concentration/dose. The maintenance immunotherapy schedule is generally every 4-8 weeks for venoms and every 2-4 weeks for inhalant allergens. Maintenance immunotherapy generally involves follow-up visits every 6-12 months. If clinical improvement is not achieved after one year of maintenance immunotherapy, potential reasons for lack of effectiveness should be investigated and if no reasons are discovered, cessation of immunotherapy should be contemplated and other therapy possibilities should be explored. For many patients, the recommended duration of immunotherapy is 3-5 years. However, the duration of immunotherapy should be personalized based on the benefits sustained from therapy, disease severity, immunotherapy reaction, patient preference, and certain antigens in the therapy.1,2,9  

Generally, the initial dose is 1,000 to 10,000-fold less than the maintenance dose. The maintenance dose is usually 500-2,000 allergy units (AU) (e.g., for dust mites) or 1,000-4,000 bioequivalent allergy units (BAU) (e.g., for grass or cat) for standardized allergen extracts. For non-standardized extracts, a recommended dose is 3,000-5,000 protein nitrogen units (PNU) or 0.5 mL of a 1:100 or 1:200 weight/volume dilution of manufacturer’s extract. If the main allergen concentration for the extract is available, a maintenance dose of 5-20 micrograms (µg) of the major allergen is recommended for inhalant allergens and 100 µg for Hymenoptera venoms.1,2

Desensitization involves the rapid administration of incremental doses of allergens or medications by which effector cells are rendered less reactive or nonreactive to an IgE-mediated immune response. Desensitization can involve IgE-mediated or other immune mechanisms. A positive skin test response to the allergens might lessen or actually convert to a negative response in some situations after desensitization. Tolerance to medications can be achieved through desensitization.  

Immunotherapy may have severe unpredictable systemic and local reactions within the first 30 minutes following the injection. It is recommended that immunotherapy be administered in a setting that permits the prompt recognition and management of adverse reactions.6 The preferred location for such administration is the prescribing physician's office. However, patients can receive immunotherapy at another health care facility if the physician and staff at that location are trained and equipped to recognize and manage immunotherapy reactions, particularly anaphylaxis. It is recommended that patients wait at the physician's office/medical clinic for at least 30 minutes after the immunotherapy injection. Regardless of the location, allergen immunotherapy should be administered under the direct supervision of an appropriately trained physician, qualified nurse practitioner or physician assistant in a facility with the proper equipment, medications, and personnel to treat anaphylaxis.1,9  

The risk of severe systemic reactions is low with allergen immunotherapy that is administered appropriately; however, life-threatening and fatal reactions do happen. Studies have shown that severe responses following allergen immunotherapy occur in less than 1% of patients receiving conventional immunotherapy, but occur in about 34% of patients receiving rush (e.g., accelerated timetable) immunotherapy.1

Limitations for Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy injections should be withheld if the patient presents with an acute asthma exacerbation; allergen immunotherapy should not be initiated unless the patient’s asthma is stable with pharmacotherapy as patients with severe or uncontrolled asthma are at a greater risk for systemic reactions to immunotherapy injections. Regarding inhalant and venom allergen immunotherapy, individual evaluations of risk versus benefit must be made for individuals on beta-blockers and ACE inhibitor medications.1,2,9   

Home administration of allergen immunotherapy should only be considered in rare and exceptional cases when the benefits of immunotherapy clearly outweigh the risks. Frequent or routine home immunotherapy is not considered appropriate under any circumstances. If this method is utilized, informed consent should be attained from the patient and the individual administering the injection must be trained and equipped to recognize and manage immunotherapy reactions, particularly anaphylaxis.1

Methods of Immunotherapy not Supported in the Literature

In addition to the subcutaneous route, allergen extracts can be given by various methods. However, there are currently no FDA-approved formulations for a non-injection immunotherapy extract. In this regard, the quality of evidence in the literature does not support the following methods of immunotherapy: Oral and sublingual immunotherapy for food hypersensitivity, neutralization-provocation therapy, low-dose subcutaneous therapy based on the Rinkel method, intranasal, intra-bronchial, intralymphatic, and epicutaneous. Further research is needed to clarify the utility and efficacy of these methods.1,6,12,13

Conditions not Supported in the Literature for Immunotherapy

The quality of evidence in the literature is lacking in support of allergen immunotherapy for food hypersensitivity, cockroach hypersensitivity, chronic urticaria and/or angioedema, and therefore, is not recommended.1,12,13 The use of therapy formulations, such as allergoids and adjuvants is also not supported in the literature.1  

Evidence Submitted for Reconsideration

Cox et al1 provides a practice parameter (third update) for allergen immunotherapy. This guideline indicates that few studies have examined the effectiveness of multiallergen subcutaneous immunotherapy. These studies have conflicting outcomes, with some showing substantial clinical improvement compared with placebo and others demonstrating no benefit over optimal pharmacotherapy and environmental control measures. While it is important to treat patients with relevant allergens, the multiallergen studies have shown effectiveness overall, although some did not provide outcomes specific to the multiallergens. Furthermore, this practice is commonly utilized by U.S. allergists.

Nelson16 provides a review of the literature regarding differences in the method of providing subcutaneous allergy immunotherapy in patients with multiple allergies for European and U.S. allergists. This is considered a significant issue as evidence shows that polysensitization is more common than monosensitization.

In the U.S., the above referenced practice parameter (third update), published in 2011 by Cox et al1, for allergen immunotherapy is the most current guideline for multiallergen subcutaneous immunotherapy. This guideline recommends providing subcutaneous allergy immunotherapy “with a mixture consisting of all the allergen extracts to which the patient has evident clinical sensitivity.”16(p583)

In 2018, the EAACI Taskforce provided a guideline on allergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. This guideline includes a recommendation “that a polyallergic patient whose sensitivities are to homologous or related allergens (such as northern grasses or birch/alder/hazel) be given a single representative extract or a mixture of two of the related extracts. Where the extracts are not homologous, they recommend separate allergen immunotherapy preparations for the one or at the most two of the clinically most important allergens with, if two, doses be given 30 – 60 minutes apart in separate locations.”16(p583)

The literature indicates that methods of providing allergy immunotherapy in polyallergic patients are different in the U.S. and Europe. “The U.S. practice parameter’s recommendation that only clinically relevant allergen extracts be included in a multiallergen subcutaneous immunotherapy mixture probably represents the consensus of most practicing U.S. allergists.”16(p584) Allergists in the U.S. seem satisfied with the multiallergen approach, "because empirically it appears to be working well.”16(p588)

Nelson17 provides a review of the literature regarding multiallergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis and asthma. Literature was reviewed for studies concurrently using two or more different allergen extracts in subcutaneous or sublingual immunotherapy (this summary focuses on subcutaneous administration). The author concludes, “The findings of the current review strongly suggest that the simultaneous delivery of multiple unrelated allergens can be clinically effective with the proper identification of relevant allergens, and treatment with adequate doses for a sufficient period of time is essential.”17(p768)

Burks et al6 provides a consensus report from the EAACI and the AAAAI for allergy immunotherapy. This consensus report represents a comprehensive review of the literature for allergy immunotherapy and includes the mechanisms of allergy immunotherapy and the utilization of this therapy in clinical practice, variations in methods between Europe and the U.S., and addresses specific unmet clinical needs in allergy immunotherapy with select therapeutic approaches.

The report indicates that European practices generally provide single-allergen subcutaneous immunotherapy. Though, subcutaneous immunotherapy is commonly provided with multiple allergens in the U.S., which is supported by some older studies.6

Wise et al18 provides an international consensus statement on allergy and rhinology for allergic rhinitis based on a review of the literature. Regarding single-allergen versus multiple-allergen allergen immunotherapy, the authors state, “It is the common practice among U.S. allergists to include in their treatment multiple allergen extracts to which the patient is sensitized.”18(p128) Whereas, “European guidelines recommend treating with the single most troublesome allergen identified clinically, or if more than 1 extract is to be given they should be given at separate sites with at least 30 minutes in between administration.”18(p128)

Wood et al19 provides a report of four pilot studies: “(1) an open-label study to assess the safety of cockroach sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) in adults and children; (2) a randomized, double-blind biomarker study of cockroach SLIT versus placebo in adults; (3) a randomized, double-blind biomarker study of 2 doses of cockroach SLIT versus placebo in children; and (4) an open-label safety and biomarker study of cockroach subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) in adults.”19(p2) (This summary will focus on the study for subcutaneous immunotherapy as SLIT is nationally non-covered by Medicare; antigens must be administered by injection to be considered for coverage).

An open-label, pilot study was conducted utilizing German cockroach allergen extract administered by subcutaneous injection to evaluate the safety of this therapy in cockroach-sensitive individuals. “The objective of this protocol was to assess whether treatment with cockroach SCIT using the per-protocol allergen extract doses is safe. The primary outcome measure was the rate of related adverse events and serious adverse events in the course of treatment.”19(p9) The study included ten study participants (average age of 37.5 years) with cockroach sensitivity. Seven of the participants had asthma and six had allergic rhinitis.

The study participants were given increased doses of subcutaneous cockroach extract twice per week for 11 weeks until they reached the maintenance dose of 0.6 mL of a 1:20 concentration of extract. Study participants were then monitored for 15 weeks as they were given weekly injections at the maintenance dose. Blood was collected each month for evaluation of cockroach-specific IgE levels and other biomarkers of allergen immunotherapy.19

The average cockroach skin prick test wheal was 6.75 mm (range, 3–9 mm), and the average cockroach IgE level was 3.8 kU/L (range, 0.9–24.9 kU/L). Three adverse events occurred for localized injection-site reactions and were considered moderate in severity. An additional 147 adverse events occurred for minor injection-site reactions or symptoms that were consistent with the study participants’ underlying allergic rhinitis and were considered mild in severity and likely related to the treatment. Study results showed that changes from baseline in cockroach-specific IgE levels (1.78-fold increase, P=.02), IgG4 levels (12.95-fold increase, P<.001), and facilitated allergen binding activity (43% inhibition of B-cell binding, P<.001) were detected. Five study participants showed at least a 3-fold increase in cockroach IgE levels, while all of the study participants had at least a 2-fold increase in cockroach IgG4 levels.19

The authors stated that “The SCIT trial was designed as an early safety study but also as a proof of concept that consistent, allergen immunotherapy-related immunologic changes can be induced with German cockroach extract. Findings with regard to safety were reassuring because no severe reactions were seen. Mild reactions to SCIT were common, but they did not affect dosing.”19(p6)

The quality of evidence provided is insufficient to support allergen immunotherapy for cockroach hypersensitivity. Further research is needed to clarify the utility and efficacy of allergen immunotherapy for cockroach sensitivity.

Analysis of Evidence (Rationale for Determination)

Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots involves the repeated administration of allergen extracts to individuals with IgE-mediated conditions to decrease symptoms and improve quality of life during subsequent natural allergen exposure. Allergen immunotherapy consists of administering increasingly greater doses of specific allergens to individuals who have shown immunologic sensitivity or reaction to a particular allergen through allergy testing.

Multiple evidence-based practice guidelines and appropriate use criteria are available for allergen immunotherapy. Many well-designed controlled studies have shown that immunotherapy is effective for pollen, animal allergens, dust mites, mold/fungi, and Hymenoptera hypersensitivity. Also, aeroallergen immunotherapy is recommended for individuals with atopic dermatitis resulting from aeroallergen sensitization to dust mites. In addition, VIT is recommended for individuals with a history of a systemic reaction to Hymenoptera stings who demonstrate Hymenoptera-specific IgE antibodies and exhibit LLRs. Measurements of serum tryptase levels are also recommended for these individuals as increased serum tryptase levels are correlated with recurrent and severe systemic responses (including deadly reactions) to VIT injections, increased failure rates in VIT, and increased relapse rates with discontinuation of VIT. Also, the use of WBE is recommended for fire ant sting allergy as venom extracts are not currently available for fire ants.

The decision to begin allergen immunotherapy may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to, patient's preference/acceptability, adherence, medication requirements, response to avoidance methods, and the adverse effects of medications. The severity and duration of symptoms should also be considered when evaluating the need for allergen immunotherapy. Patient assessments should include a detailed clinical history, an applicable physical evaluation, and particular laboratory tests. Evidence-based guidelines recommend immunotherapy when allergy testing results are positive for select IgE antibodies that align with likely triggers and patient exposure. The presence of IgE antibodies alone does not infer the need for immunotherapy; the presence of IgE antibodies to an allergen must correlate with the patient’s history.

Per evidence-based guidelines, the provider prescribing immunotherapy should be trained and experienced in prescribing and administering immunotherapy. The prescribing provider must choose the applicable allergen extracts based on the patient’s medical history, allergen exposure history, and the presence of specific IgE antibodies. The prescription must indicate the initial dose, the target maintenance dose, and the immunotherapy schedule.

Evidence-based guidelines recommend that immunotherapy be administered in a setting that permits the prompt recognition and management of adverse reaction. The preferred location for such administration is the prescribing physician's office. However, patients can receive immunotherapy at another health care facility if the physician and staff at that location are trained and equipped to recognize and manage immunotherapy reactions, particularly anaphylaxis. It is recommended that patients wait at the physician's office/medical clinic for at least 30 minutes after the immunotherapy injection as immunotherapy may have severe unpredictable systemic and local reactions within the first 30 minutes following the injection. Regardless of the location, allergen immunotherapy should be administered under the direct supervision of an appropriately trained physician, qualified nurse practitioner or physician assistant in a facility with the proper equipment, medications, and personnel to treat anaphylaxis.

Evidence-based guidelines support the following limitations for allergen immunotherapy: 1) Patients should not have substantial comorbid conditions that could increase immunotherapy risk (e.g., severe asthma uncontrolled by pharmacotherapy, significant cardiovascular disease); 2) Patients on beta-blockers and/or ACE inhibitor medications must have individualized assessments of risk versus benefit prior to receiving inhalant or venom allergen immunotherapy; 3) Patients should be able to cooperate during therapy; and 4) Home administration of allergen immunotherapy should only be considered in rare and exceptional cases when the benefits of immunotherapy clearly outweigh the risks. Frequent or routine home immunotherapy is not considered appropriate under any circumstances.

The quality of evidence in the literature does not support the following methods of immunotherapy: 1) oral and sublingual immunotherapy for food hypersensitivity; 2) neutralization-provocation therapy; 3) low-dose subcutaneous therapy based on the Rinkel method; 4) intranasal; 5) intra-bronchial; 6) intralymphatic; and 7) epicutaneous. Further research is needed to clarify the utility and efficacy of these methods. Also, the quality of evidence in the literature is lacking in support of allergen immunotherapy for the following conditions: a) food hypersensitivity; b) cockroach hypersensitivity; and c) chronic urticaria and/or angioedema. In addition, the use of therapy formulations, such as allergoids and adjuvants is also not supported in the literature.

Proposed Process Information

Synopsis of Changes
Changes Fields Changed
The ‘Limitations’ section of the LCD, ‘Allergen immunotherapy is not considered medically reasonable and necessary for’ has been revised to remove the following bullet: Multiallergen subcutaneous immunotherapy. The ‘Summary of Evidence’ section of the LCD was revised to add the following section: ‘Evidence Submitted for Reconsideration’. The ‘Analysis of Evidence’ section of the LCD has been revised to remove the following verbiage in the seventh paragraph: The quality of evidence in the literature does not support the following method of immunotherapy: multiallergen subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT). The ‘Bibliography’ section of the LCD was revised to add references. Also, minor formatting changes have been made throughout the LCD. Coverage Indications, Limitations and/or Medical Necessity
Sources of Information and Basis for Decision
Associated Information

Please refer to the related Local Coverage Article: Billing and Coding: Allergen Immunotherapy, A57678, for documentation requirements, utilization parameters and all coding information as applicable.

Sources of Information

N/A

Bibliography

This bibliography presents those sources that were obtained during the development of this policy. The Contractor is not responsible for the continuing viability of Website addresses listed below.

  1. Cox L, Nelson H, Lockey R, Calabria C, et al. Allergen immunotherapy: a practice parameter third update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. January 2011;127(1 Suppl):S1-55. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.09.034.
  2. Golden DB, Demain J, Freeman T, et al. Stinging insect hypersensitivity: A practice parameter update 2016. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2017;118(1):28-54. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2016.10.031.
  3. Lin SY, Azar A, Suarez-Cuervo C, et al. The Role of Immunotherapy in the Treatment of Asthma. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 196 (Prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No.290-2015-00006-I). AHRQ Publication No. 17(18)-EHC029-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. March 2018. doi:10.23970/AHRQEPCCER196.
  4. Lin SY, Erekosima N, Suarez-Cuervo C, et al. Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis and/or Asthma: Comparative Effectiveness Review. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2013 Mar. Report No.: 13-EHC061-EF. https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/asthma-immunotherapy-2010_research-protocol.pdf. Accessed August 11, 2020.
  5. Brozek JL, Bousquet J, Baena-Cagnani CE, et al. Global Allergy and Asthma European Network; Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation Working Group. Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines: 2010 revision. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(3):466-76. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.06.047.
  6. Burks AW, Calderon MA, Casale T, et al. Update on allergy immunotherapy: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology/European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology/PRACTALL consensus report. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May 2013;131(5):1288-1296. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.01.049.
  7. Calderón MA, Alves B, Jacobson M, Hurwitz B, Sheikh A, Durham S. Allergen injection immunotherapy for seasonal allergic rhinitis. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. January 2007;(1). Art. No.CD001936. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001936.pub2.
  8. Calderón MA, Casale TB, Togias A, Bousquet J, Durham SR, Demoly P. Allergen-specific immunotherapy for respiratory allergies: from meta-analysis to registration and beyond. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;127(1):30-38. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.08.024.
  9. Moote W, Kim H, Ellis AK. Allergen-specific immunotherapy. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2018;14(Suppl 2):53. doi:10.1186/s13223-018-0282-5.
  10. Bae JM, Choi YY, Park CO, Chung KY, Lee KH. Efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy for atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;132(1):110-117. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.02.044.
  11. Lee J, Park CO, Lee KH. Specific immunotherapy in atopic dermatitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2015;7(3):221-229. doi:10.4168/aair.2015.7.3.221.
  12. Bernstein JA, Lang DM, Khan DA, et al. The diagnosis and management of acute and chronic urticaria: 2014 update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(5):1270-1277. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.02.036.
  13. Sampson HA, Aceves S, Bock SA, et al. Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, Food allergy: a practice parameter update-2014. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;134(5):1016-1025. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.05.013.
  14. Boyce JA, Assa'ad A, Burks AW, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: summary of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel report. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011;64(1):175-192. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.11.020.
  15. Mortuaire G, Michel J, Papon JF, et al. Specific immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis. Eur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis. 2017;134(4):253-258. doi:10.1016/j.anorl.2017.06.005.
  16. Nelson HS. To mix or not to mix in allergy immunotherapy vaccines. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021;21(6):583-589. doi:10.1097/ACI.0000000000000784.
  17. Nelson HS. Multiallergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;123(4):763-769. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2008.12.013.
  18. Wise SK, Lin SY, Toskala E, et al. International Consensus Statement on Allergy and Rhinology: Allergic Rhinitis. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2018;8(2):108-352. doi:10.1002/alr.22073.
  19. Wood RA, Togias A, Wildfire J, et al. Development of cockroach immunotherapy by the Inner-City Asthma Consortium. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(3):846-52.e6. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.08.047.
  20. Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;152(1 Suppl):S1-S43. doi:10.1177/0194599814561600.
Open Meetings
Meeting Date Meeting States Meeting Information
10/12/2023 Florida
Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands

The open meeting is a meeting for MAC JN.

Location of Meeting:
Teleconference/Webinar Only

Time of Meeting:
1PM ET

Link to JN website:
https://medicare.fcso.com/Open_Public_Meeting/0458851.asp

N/A
Contractor Advisory Committee (CAC) Meetings
Meeting Date Meeting States Meeting Information
N/A
MAC Meeting Information URLs
N/A
Proposed LCD Posting Date
09/28/2023
Comment Period Start Date
09/28/2023
Comment Period End Date
11/11/2023
Reason for Proposed LCD
  • Request for Coverage by a Practitioner (Part B)
Requestor Information
This request was MAC initiated.
Requestor Name Requestor Letter
Fasano, Vander Ark, Fonacier View Letter
N/A
Contact for Comments on Proposed LCD
Medical Affairs
2020 Technology Parkway
Suite 100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
ProposedLCDComments@fcso.com

Coding Information

Bill Type Codes

Code Description
N/A

Revenue Codes

Code Description
N/A

CPT/HCPCS Codes

Group 1

Group 1 Paragraph

N/A

Group 1 Codes

N/A

N/A

ICD-10-CM Codes that Support Medical Necessity

Group 1

Group 1 Paragraph:

N/A

Group 1 Codes:

N/A

N/A

ICD-10-CM Codes that DO NOT Support Medical Necessity

Group 1

Group 1 Paragraph:

N/A

Group 1 Codes:

N/A

N/A

Additional ICD-10 Information

General Information

Associated Information

Please refer to the related Local Coverage Article: Billing and Coding: Allergen Immunotherapy, A57678, for documentation requirements, utilization parameters and all coding information as applicable.

Sources of Information

N/A

Bibliography

This bibliography presents those sources that were obtained during the development of this policy. The Contractor is not responsible for the continuing viability of Website addresses listed below.

  1. Cox L, Nelson H, Lockey R, Calabria C, et al. Allergen immunotherapy: a practice parameter third update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. January 2011;127(1 Suppl):S1-55. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.09.034.
  2. Golden DB, Demain J, Freeman T, et al. Stinging insect hypersensitivity: A practice parameter update 2016. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2017;118(1):28-54. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2016.10.031.
  3. Lin SY, Azar A, Suarez-Cuervo C, et al. The Role of Immunotherapy in the Treatment of Asthma. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 196 (Prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No.290-2015-00006-I). AHRQ Publication No. 17(18)-EHC029-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. March 2018. doi:10.23970/AHRQEPCCER196.
  4. Lin SY, Erekosima N, Suarez-Cuervo C, et al. Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis and/or Asthma: Comparative Effectiveness Review. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2013 Mar. Report No.: 13-EHC061-EF. https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/asthma-immunotherapy-2010_research-protocol.pdf. Accessed August 11, 2020.
  5. Brozek JL, Bousquet J, Baena-Cagnani CE, et al. Global Allergy and Asthma European Network; Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation Working Group. Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines: 2010 revision. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(3):466-76. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.06.047.
  6. Burks AW, Calderon MA, Casale T, et al. Update on allergy immunotherapy: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology/European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology/PRACTALL consensus report. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May 2013;131(5):1288-1296. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.01.049.
  7. Calderón MA, Alves B, Jacobson M, Hurwitz B, Sheikh A, Durham S. Allergen injection immunotherapy for seasonal allergic rhinitis. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. January 2007;(1). Art. No.CD001936. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001936.pub2.
  8. Calderón MA, Casale TB, Togias A, Bousquet J, Durham SR, Demoly P. Allergen-specific immunotherapy for respiratory allergies: from meta-analysis to registration and beyond. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;127(1):30-38. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.08.024.
  9. Moote W, Kim H, Ellis AK. Allergen-specific immunotherapy. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2018;14(Suppl 2):53. doi:10.1186/s13223-018-0282-5.
  10. Bae JM, Choi YY, Park CO, Chung KY, Lee KH. Efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy for atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;132(1):110-117. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.02.044.
  11. Lee J, Park CO, Lee KH. Specific immunotherapy in atopic dermatitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2015;7(3):221-229. doi:10.4168/aair.2015.7.3.221.
  12. Bernstein JA, Lang DM, Khan DA, et al. The diagnosis and management of acute and chronic urticaria: 2014 update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(5):1270-1277. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.02.036.
  13. Sampson HA, Aceves S, Bock SA, et al. Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, Food allergy: a practice parameter update-2014. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;134(5):1016-1025. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.05.013.
  14. Boyce JA, Assa'ad A, Burks AW, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: summary of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel report. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011;64(1):175-192. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.11.020.
  15. Mortuaire G, Michel J, Papon JF, et al. Specific immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis. Eur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis. 2017;134(4):253-258. doi:10.1016/j.anorl.2017.06.005.
  16. Nelson HS. To mix or not to mix in allergy immunotherapy vaccines. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021;21(6):583-589. doi:10.1097/ACI.0000000000000784.
  17. Nelson HS. Multiallergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;123(4):763-769. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2008.12.013.
  18. Wise SK, Lin SY, Toskala E, et al. International Consensus Statement on Allergy and Rhinology: Allergic Rhinitis. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2018;8(2):108-352. doi:10.1002/alr.22073.
  19. Wood RA, Togias A, Wildfire J, et al. Development of cockroach immunotherapy by the Inner-City Asthma Consortium. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(3):846-52.e6. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.08.047.
  20. Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;152(1 Suppl):S1-S43. doi:10.1177/0194599814561600.

Revision History Information

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Associated Documents

Attachments
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Related Local Coverage Documents
Articles
A57678 - Billing and Coding: Allergen Immunotherapy
Public Versions
Updated On Effective Dates Status
09/22/2023 N/A - N/A Superseded You are here

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