A safety net may soon be
available to kids with peanut allergies. On January 31, the Food and Drug
Administration approved the first drug aimed at peanut allergies in the United
States. The drug, called Palforzia, won’t allow allergic children to chomp
PB&J’s, but it may reduce the dangers of unintentional exposure.
A regimen of Palforzia carefully
metes out escalating doses of purified peanut powder before arriving at a daily
maintenance dose. The method was designed to gradually teach the immune system
that peanuts aren’t a threat.
By the end of a recent clinical
trial, about two-thirds of 372 children and teenagers could tolerate the amount of
peanut protein in approximately two
peanuts (SN: 11/18/18). The same was
true for only 4 percent of participants who didn’t receive the peanut protein
regimen. (In tests on a small number of adults, the drug didn’t seem to help
The drug, made by biopharmaceutical
company Aimmune Therapeutics based in Brisbane, Calif., could help severely
allergic kids tolerate accidental peanut contact in their daily lives,
preventing a serious reaction, or even death. But Palforzia can bring side
effects, including anaphylaxis. Some doses are meant to be taken under medical
An estimated 1 million children in the United
States have peanut allergies, a number that seems to be increasing. Doctors hope
that number will fall with recent advice that encourages parents to feed most babies peanut protein early, between 4 and 6 months of age (SN: 1/13/17).