The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug to treat life-threatening allergic reactions to approximately 1 million children in the United States with peanut allergies. The drug, Palforzia, can be used by children between the ages of 4 and 17 to mitigate potentially life-threatening reactions to peanut exposure. Although patients will still be encouraged to avoid any exposure to peanuts, the drug will be an additional measure to help children in case of accidental contact with peanuts. “Even with strict circumvention, unintentional exposures can and do occur,” wrote Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “When used in conjunction with peanut removal, Palforzia provides an FDA approved treatment option to help reduce the risk of these allergic reactions in children with peanut allergy.” Nina Nichols, an 18-year-old from Washington, told the Associated Press (AP) that the drug provides a “safety blanket”. “It was a change of life,” Nichols told AP after participating in a teenage Palforzia research study. Peanut allergies are one of the most common among American children and can trigger a wide range of reactions, including runny nose, stomach cramps, indigestion, urticaria, bloating, fainting and anaphylaxis.
Palforzia can cause some of thes side effects,particularly in its first two cycles of administration,
which the FDA requires that patients take in a special safety program under the supervision of a
certified health center. The powder is made up of small amounts of peanut protein and can be mixed by patients with semi-solid
foods such as yogurt or apple sauce. After the initial dose, it is increased every few weeks until after about six months, when the patient
can tolerate the equivalent of about one peanut. In a study of nearly 500 children, two thirds who
received Palforzia could eat at least the equivalent of two peanuts. Patients will need to continue the daily dose to continue protection and users should still take
medicines such as EpiPens in case of a reaction. Peanut allergies affect about 1 in 13 American children and have been on the rise in recent years,
making the issue an area ripe for innovation. Blows, patches and oral drops are similar treatments
that are also weighed for peanut allergies, according to the AP.