Last Friday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s expert advisory panel has analyzed a new treatment drug for peanut allergy in children. This medicine is called Palforzia and is manufactured by Aimmune Therapeutics. Palforzia helps to prevent and lower the effect of peanut allergy in children which is one of the most prevalent types of allergies in the USA.
Like other allergy medicines, this is oral immunotherapy but this is first-ever medicine for peanut allergy. It is not a permanent treatment plan however it only reduces the risk of getting a reaction. FDA’s expert advisory panel has not made a final decision yet. It is pending till next year. But this is a good start to consider medicines for common allergic reactions.
Dr. Kari Nadeau from Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford believes that oral immunotherapy is extremely helpful in food-related allergies. It is good to see that the FDA is considering a first-ever anti-allergic medicine for peanut allergy.
Peanut allergy is highly prevalent in children
To everyone’s surprise, peanut allergy in children is one of the most common food allergies all around the world. Only in the USA, it has affected more than 1.2 million children, estimates a research study (2018) published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Children may experience a number of peanut allergy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, swelling, indigestion and even diarrhea. One rare symptom of peanut allergy is anaphylaxis.
It is when reaction spreads to the whole body, causing inflammation, breathing issues, reduced oxygen supply, low blood pressure and fainting of the person. Usually, epinephrine works well for the allergic reaction which is available in injectable form. Still many people especially children end up at emergency rooms.
One way to avoid a peanut allergy is to avoid consuming food that contains peanuts. But if the person is not aware of ingredients inside the food, and he eats it, using an anti-allergic medicine is necessary. That is why medicines like Palforzia would be a great help for people sensitive to peanut allergens.
How does Palforzia help?
Palforzia is available in an easy to use capsule form and the allergic person is required to consume it daily for a set time. It has a small amount of peanut flour inside it. Usually, it starts with an extremely low quantity of peanut protein which doesn’t cause a reaction. Gradually the dose increases up to 300 mg per day. This way the user’s body starts to develop a tolerance against peanuts.
It takes somewhat 6 months to complete this work. As it starts its course from a low amount, the chances of causing an allergy are minimum. Even after this treatment, peanut-allergic people would not be able to eat peanuts. But it would reduce their sensitivity to peanuts. It means they will not get a reaction “immediately” after accidentally consuming some bites of peanut added food. Even if they do, this reaction would be far less intense than a normal allergic reaction. Palforzia is particularly helpful for children as they are the common targets of peanut allergens.
Is peanut protein safe for children?
Palforzia is not a complete treatment plan. It only reduces the severity of the reactions. One particular research from The New England Journal of Medicine (2018) finds that peanut protein powder may cause an allergic reaction in children. It may cause skin hives, itching, coughing or nausea. However, the chance of getting these side effects is rare. The highly positive results in more than two-third children show that this treatment plan is still effective. The research estimates children to tolerate up to 600mg peanut protein after the prior treatment with protein.
If this drug approves by FDA, it will help children with extreme sensitivity to nuts especially peanuts. The treatment needs to be supervised by a doctor. It is not something that is available over the counter. The dosage administration by a healthcare facility is necessary for this treatment plan.
The development of this medicine is one step close to finding effective treatment plans for common allergies. Upcoming research may improve the quality of such medicines and develop similar treatment plans for other allergies.