Chronic allergy sufferers know well the daily discomfort of seasonal allergies and environmental allergies. They also likely know about allergy shots -- the treatment that requires you to go into an office to get shots on a weekly or monthly basis. But there is a lesser-known treatment, allergy drops, that requires a bit less effort. Wyndly, a startup participating in Y Combinator's current batch, aims to make allergy drops more accessible to people.
Before the pandemic, Dr. Manan Shah, an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, throat doctor), would have his patients come in for an evaluation and then prescribe them personalized allergy drops to train their immune system to fight off allergy triggers. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Shah, began treating his patients suffering from allergies via telemedicine. That went well so Dr. Shah and his cousin, Aakash Shah, took their idea to Y Combinator. They showed their idea was working well in Denver, Colorado but wanted help taking it nationwide.
Through Wyndly, Dr. Shah can conduct both allergy testing and treatment via telemedicine. Unlike allergy shots, allergy drops can be taken at home. Wyndly aims to treat environmental allergies, like cats, dogs, dust mites, mold, pollen, trees, grasses and weeds.
"Most people don’t realize there is this other option," Dr. Shah said. "I think most people think the only option for allergies are shots or taking antihistamines every day. We educate people that there is this wonderful therapy and we can make it available to you in the most convenient way."
Wyndly works by first evaluating a patient's allergies. Patients can either submit a recent allergy test to Wyndly, or take Wyndly's at-home finger prick test. Next, Wyndly prepares personalized allergy drops for the patient and sends a vial to the patient's home. Then, at some point during the day, patients take five drops under the tongue. Dr. Shah said most patients see a decrease in their symptoms after taking these drops daily for six months.
Wyndly costs $99 per month for allergy drop treatment, which could come out to around $594 in total, if a patient takes them for six months. If you become a patient, the allergy test costs $0 but if you don't become a patient, the test costs $200.
While allergy drops are easy to take, there's a caveat. Insurance companies typically do not cover the cost of the treatment, while they generally do for allergy shots. But Wyndly says it aims to be the same cost as what someone would pay for insurance-covered allergy shots plus co-pays.
It's also worth noting that these allergy drops are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. While they are made using the same medications that are FDA-approved for allergy shots, the compounded medication is not itself approved and regulated by the FDA, Dr. Shah said.
Down the road, Wyndly may look to treat food allergies but Shah says there's not enough data about its safety.
"I just want to see a little more research and for the field to reach a consensus on safety," Shah said. "We hope to do food in the future if it ends up being proven to be really effective."
Wyndly has been in Y Combinator for a little over a month now and has been slowly expanding its offerings. Through partnerships with physicians, Wyndly is able to offer its services in 38 states throughout the country. By the end of 2022, Wyndly hopes to be in all 50 states.