FDA OKs Palforzia treatment for child allergies

FDA OKs Palforzia treatment for child allergies

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug for treatment of life-threatening peanut allergy that affects more than a million American children.

The new drug, Palforzia, does not cure individuals, but helps increase their tolerance to small amounts of peanuts to lessen the risk of a reaction to accidental exposure.

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

The FDA said on Friday that  Palforzia may be used for individuals 4 to 17 with a confirmed diagnosis of the allergy. It warns, that patients using it must also continue to avoid peanuts in their diet.

In this Jan. 10, 2020 image from video, 18-year-old Nina Nichols takes her daily dose of Palforzia as her mother, Maria Acebal watches, in her home in Washington. On Jan. 30, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved Palforzia, the first treatment for peanut allergies in a big step toward better care for all kinds of food allergies -- but still a long way from a cure.

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When used in conjunction with peanut avoidance, says Marks, Palforzia “provides an FDA-approved treatment option to help reduce the risk of these allergic reactions.”

“It’s been a life-changer,” said Nina Nichols, 18, of Washington, whose first encounter with peanuts as a toddler — a peanut butter cracker shared by a friend — sent her to the emergency room. She entered a Palforzia research study as a teen and calls it “a security blanket.”

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