FDA Approves First Drug Used to Treat Childhood Peanut Allergies

Parents of children with peanut allergies can now have more peace of mind when it comes to their kids’ health and safety.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of Palforzia, a new drug that aims to alleviate allergic reactions brought on by exposure to peanuts.

While the treatment isn’t a cure-all for the medical condition — sufferers will still have to completely avoid peanut products — it marks a step forward in preventing severe symptoms.

“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,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a press release.

Palforzia will be available to those between the ages of 4 and 17 who are diagnosed with a peanut allergy. The drug comes in powder form within pull-apart capsules that can be dumped into foods like pudding or applesauce for eased consumption.

“Peanut allergy affects approximately 1 million children in the U.S. and only 1 out of 5 of these children will outgrow their allergy,” Marks said. “Because there is no cure, allergic individuals must strictly avoid exposure to prevent severe and potentially life-threatening reactions,”

He added: “Even with strict avoidance, inadvertent exposures can and do occur.”

Allergic reactions many experience, even when encountering trace amounts of peanut, include hives and redness of the skin, digestive discomfort and potentially fatal responses like contracted airways and loss of blood flow to vital organs.

The FDA noted that Palforzia is not to be used for emergency treatment for allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.

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The drug is administered in three phases that test the patient for proper dosage levels.

During the trial period for the drug, commonly reported side effects to Palforzia included vomiting, nausea, tingling in the mouth, abdominal pains, itching, coughing, runny nose, throat irritation, hives and shortness of breath, according to the FDA, which added that the drug should not be used by those with severe asthma.

Since the drug doesn’t eliminate the chances of suffer anaphylaxis, in order to receive the treatment, parents, caregivers and patients should still have injectable epinephrine on their person at all times.

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