For kids and families struggling with peanut allergy., there’s new hope. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new treatment called Palforzia as a possible solution for children dealing with a peanut allergy.
“Peanut allergy affects approximately 1 million children in the U.S. and only 1 out of 5 of these children will outgrow their allergy. Because there is no cure, allergic individuals must strictly avoid exposure to prevent severe and potentially life-threatening reactions,” Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a statement. Enter Palforzia.
Treatment with Palforzia isn’t designed to eliminate or cure a peanut allergy. Its aim is to expose kids gradually to the allergen, thereby, hopefully, reducing the likelihood of a severe allergic reaction.
“So, if they were to accidentally to have a bite of peanut it would be unlikely to result in severe anaphylactic reaction,” Dr. Christina Ciaccio, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and Chief of Allergy/Immunology and Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Biological Sciences, explains to Parentology.
Palforzia is a phased treatment and will be administered under the supervision of a child’s allergist. “In concept, it’s similar to ages-old allergy shots in that we are actually administering a teeny-tiny, but standardized dose of peanut to the peanut-allergic child,” Ciaccio says. “That happens in a physician’s office while they’re under direct supervision to make sure there’s no reaction to it.”
Children will be given their initial dose under the supervision of their doctor. They will continue taking this dose on a daily basis at home until their physician increases the dose during another visit. The up-dosing goes on for approximately six months until the child is consuming the equivalent of approximately a peanut a day.
Palforzia treatment is a significant commitment and may not be for every family. Children have to visit their doctor about every two weeks during the first six months of treatment. Additionally, kids have to take their dose of Palforzia at the same time every day. After receiving it, they must be monitored by family, can’t be sleeping and must be inactive for two hours after receiving treatment. This can be limiting to kids and families involved in sports or extracurricular activities.
“The families I think this product is best for are those who can really make a commitment to find a consistent time every day where their child is monitored and sitting quietly following their daily dose,” Ciaccio recommends.
If families are willing to commit, Palforzia has proven quite effective in reducing the likelihood of an anaphylactic reaction. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, in trial studies, 67% of children who received treatment were able to successfully tolerate 600 mg of peanut protein.
Palforzia is currently approved for ages 4-17. There’s hope that the treatment may eventually expand to adults. Now that it’s been approved by the FDA, its manufacturer, Aimunne Therapeutics anticipates the treatment should be available to patients within a matter of weeks.
Ciaccio is hopeful Palforzia treatment will lead the way to treating more than just peanut allergies, “This is just the beginning. Now we can go down the same path and repeat the same steps to start working on other foods that kids are commonly allergic to as well.”
Peanut Allergy Treatment FDA — Sources
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The New England Journal of Medicine
Dr. Christina Ciaccio, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and Chief of Allergy/Immunology and Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Biological Sciences