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First Peanut Allergy Drug Approved by the FDA

May 7, 2020 • Our Blog • Allergies
The first peanut allergy treatment was recently approved by the FDA. Here’s what parents need to know about this groundbreaking medication. Parents of children with peanut allergies know the tremendous stress and anxiety that this often severe food allergy can cause. Many of these children must avoid any and all exposure to even trace amounts of peanuts to avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction. Peanut allergies can make classrooms, restaurants, and friends’ houses feel like danger zones. To make matters worse, it’s estimated that only 20 percent of the one million American children living with peanut allergies will ever outgrow the condition. For 80 percent of peanut-allergic children and their parents, that means a lifetime of remaining on high alert against trace amounts of peanuts, but, encouragingly, a new FDA-approved treatment may provide some relief. Palforzia is a medication designed to build up tolerance over time until it’s possible to safely consume a small amount of peanuts. While this medication will not make it possible to eat, say, a peanut butter sandwich, it’s intended to act as a bulwark against the amount of peanut that can be consumed accidentally.

What Palforzia Can and Can’t Do

Notably, Palforzia is the first therapy for food allergies of any kind. For now, it’s only directed at peanut allergies, but it’s possible that a similar pharmacological mechanism could provide relief from other food allergies in the future. Palforzia contains carefully measured doses of peanut flour that increase over time as a patient’s immunity increases. Currently, it’s administered in capsule form, though patients who can’t take capsules can open the Palforzia capsules and sprinkle the medication into their food. The overall first dose and the first dose of each subsequent higher dosage is administered in a doctor’s office as a precaution. It’s expected that a patient’s dosage will increase every two weeks for six months, after which their dosage will remain the same (though they should continue to take the medicine). It’s important to note that Palforzia isn’t a cure for peanut allergies, nor is it meant to be used in an emergency situation. Children who take the medication should still carry an EpiPen and should still avoid peanut products. Palforzia is a safety net. If it works properly — and if the patient reacts to it as intended — it reduces the chances of a catastrophic allergic reaction occurring.

A Partner in Fighting Your Child’s Peanut Allergy

In clinical trials, Palforzia was shown to increase tolerance for peanuts over time. However, it’s not yet known if patients can ever stop taking the medication, whether their tolerance will last if they do, or when their tolerance will hit its highest possible point. Further, Palforzia may not be a good option for all patients. Because even the lowest dose does contain trace amounts of peanuts, it can inspire great anxiety and may not be safe for all patients. Parents interested in this new treatment should talk to their child’s pediatrician before making any decisions. Whether or not Palforzia is the right treatment for your child, the pediatricians at Kids’ Health can help you come up with strategies to keep your child safe and your mind at ease. Peanut allergies can be frightening, but they shouldn’t hold you or your child back. Our practice takes a holistic approach to pediatrics, focusing on helping your child reach their best in every aspect of their life. Contact us to speak to a pediatrician....