New pollen pill could change lives of thousands of New Zealanders

A pill to protect against pollen allergies could change the lives of thousands of New Zealanders.

It retrains the brain's memory and has been successful amongst almost everyone who has tried it. 

When spring comes around, allergy sufferer Khan Bui is always dreading it.

"It's like the worst time of year for me," Bui said.

But not anymore - the 40-year-old has found success with immunotherapy.

"It's probably about 75 percent effective in terms of symptom improvement. Nasal congestion, runny nose, the sneezing, the itching," allergy specialist Joy Lee said.

A tablet is dissolved under the tongue once a day, exposing sufferers to five different types of grass pollen. 

Essentially, it's retraining the immune system to reduce the risk of thunderstorm asthma.

"We found that after four months, there are changes in the immune system that are indicative of successful outcome," allergy researcher Professor Menno Van Zelm said.

Around 20 percent of New Zealanders are allergic to grass pollen and popular over-the-counter remedies only treat the symptoms.  

"You do have to be prepared and plan in advance because the immunotherapy has to start before the spring season starts," Lee said.

The new pill has a 92 percent success rate but it has only been tested on 27 people.

An earlier indicator it'll be a game changer but one that won't be ready for a few years.