It’s currently estimated that 1 in 13 American children has at least one food allergy, with peanut allergies being the most prevalent. Accordingly, finding a treatment to make life easier for the more than 1.2 million children who live with a peanut allergy has become a pressing issue.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug that may provide some relief. Last week, the government organization gave the go-ahead to Aimmune Therapeutics, Inc., to begin selling Palforzia, a treatment that involves adding an increasing amount of peanut protein to food over six months (eventually adding up to one peanut) until patients develop a tolerance to two to four peanuts. That may sound like a small victory, but some patients have reactions to as little as 1/30th of a peanut. The drug has been approved for children ages 4 to 17.
Unfortunately, Palforzia will not cure peanut allergies or allow patients to start consuming peanuts. Instead, it’s meant to prevent their bodies from the type of immune-system overreactions that are so severe that they can lead to hospitalization or death, especially in cases of accidental exposure. Children using the drug will still have to keep EpiPens and other rescue medications nearby even after they complete their treatment.