How often should a patient be desensitized to medications? — Name withheld on request

Desensitization refers to the process of starting a medication in very low amounts and gradually increasing the dose. Patients may be hospitalized and also receive premedications to reduce the risk of a severe reaction.

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Desensitization may be done for patients at risk for significant allergic reactions to medications but no acceptable alternative is available, for example penicillin or, for chemotherapy, platinum agents. Administering the medication in this manner can help prevent the allergic reaction from occurring. Desensitization must be performed each time the patient receives the medication. For a medication dosed with breaks in treatment, such as oxaliplatin, this must be done with each dose. For medications that are dosed more closely together, such as aspirin or a penicillin, this must be done each time the medication is resumed after a break in therapy.

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