FDA approves first pill to treat peanut allergies

Published: Feb. 21, 2020 at 6:24 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A peanut allergy is no joke. The condition, which affects over 1 million U.S. children, has no cure - and can be fatal if serious reactions aren’t treated quickly.

However, in the next 60 days, the first pill ever approved by the FDA to treat peanut allergies is expected to hit the market. It won’t cure the allergy - but it could make life easier for thousands of kids.

For a lot of kids, having a peanut allergy can be isolating, especially at school. They long to do simple things, but just can’t.

“I wish I could sit with my friends at the other table,” said Ethan Richard.

But he can’t. If one of the kids at the cafeteria has lunch with even a hint of peanuts, he could be in trouble.

“I feel like I can’t breathe and my throat starts to clog up,” Richard said.

Across the country, an alarming number of kids have dangerous reactions to food. In fact, food allergies among kids have jumped 400% in the last decade, and according to Allergist Dr. Wes Sublett, the effects can be devastating.

“Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can potentially be life-threatening,” he said. “Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies that we see. One in thirteen children have some type of food allergy, peanut being one of the most common.”

Dr. Sublett is an allergist who played a key role in clinical trials of the first drug to treat peanut allergies in kids between 4 to 17. It’s called Palforzia. While it’s not a cure - it could save lives.

“I think one of the things we’re able to see in our patients in the safety extension study is that there is really a reduction in risk with accidental ingestions,” Dr. Sublett said.

The new treatment essentially works by exposing children to controlled dosages of peanut protein over time. The drug’s maker believes Palforzia has the potential to change the lives of young people diagnosed with life-threatening peanut allergies.

The drug is expected to be on the market sometime this spring.

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