What Parents Need To Know About The New Peanut Allergy Drug

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Palforzia is the first treatment approved by the FDA for peanut allergies. But when will it be ready — and what will it cost?
The Food and Drug Administration last week approved the first drug to treat peanut allergies, which will go by the name Palforzia.

The approval was major news, and rightly so. It's estimated that more than 1 million children in the United States have peanut allergies. Parents want help keep their kids safe, and until now the options have been limited.

"For peanut allergies, the treatment has always been avoidance. Just avoid, avoid, avoid — and then use epinephrine for when you have anaphylaxis," explained Dr. Jonathan Spergel, chief of the Allergy Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the research sites for the new medication.

"This therapy is a big deal," Spergel said, "because it's the first treatment beyond avoidance."

But what does Palforzia do, and what does it mean for families at a practical level? Here's what we know about the drug's approval and what comes next.

1. The new drug will NOT cure peanut allergies.

The aim is, essentially, to make children slightly less allergic by reducing the reaction they have when exposed to peanuts.

"The goal is to raise your threshold," said Dr. Scott Sicherer, director of the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai — also one of the sites where the drug was tested.

So, if your child currently has an allergic reaction when he or she is exposed to the equivalent of 1/10th of a peanut, Shicherer explained, the goal of this medication would be to get to a point where he or she can handle one whole peanut without an allergic reaction.

2. The treatment process is pretty long and involved.

The treatment consists of a strategy…
Catherine Pearson
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