A New Drug Could Change Peanut Allergy Treatment for Good
Palforzia, a new drug for peanut allergies, may open the door to a new era of food allergy treatments
People with peanut allergies have reason to rejoice. Today, the FDA approved a first-of-its-kind drug for the treatment of peanut allergies. Experts say the drug’s approval could usher in a new era in allergy treatment — and not just for people who are allergic to peanuts.
The drug is called Palforzia. It’s an oral treatment composed of small, precisely measured and purified doses of peanut powder, which are intended to be mixed into food and eaten daily. The drug isn’t a cure, and it’s not intended to allow people with peanut allergies to eat peanuts at will. Instead, it’s designed to lower a person’s sensitivity to peanuts so that accidental exposures are not life-threatening.
“Peanut allergy affects approximately 1 million children in the U.S. and only 1 out of 5 of these children will outgrow their allergy. Because there is no cure, allergic individuals must strictly avoid exposure to prevent severe and potentially life-threatening reactions,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a statement. “Even with strict avoidance, inadvertent exposures can and do occur. When used in conjunction with peanut avoidance, Palforzia provides an FDA-approved treatment option to help reduce the risk of these allergic reactions in children with peanut allergy.”
While allergists administer the first doses in-office, all subsequent doses are taken at home. “You start with small doses and build up to larger doses, and the idea is that this makes you be able to tolerate small amounts of the allergen,” says Dr. J. Allen Meadows, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).
According to figures presented at the ACAAI’s 2017 annual scientific meeting, roughly 2.5% of U.S. kids have a peanut allergy. By some estimates, the number of children with a peanut or tree nut allergy has tripled in recent decades. Experts are still debating why rates of peanut allergies have surged, but they’ve turned up strong evidence that feeding infants and toddlers foods that contain peanuts dramatically lowers their…