Parent Survival Guide: Peanut allergy treatment breakthrough

Updated: Oct. 14, 2019 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - One in 100 children, roughly 1.2 million, have peanut allergies, according to local Allergist Doctor Thomas Harper.

He says in the last 20 years those numbers have exploded.

“Peanut is the worst allergy to have because it’s in everything. It’s in sauces, things at restaurants you don’t think of. Even if you are careful, you can have a peanut accident,” Harper said.

In some cases, Harper says that accident can be fatal.

It can cause a person who is allergic to peanuts to go into anaphylactic shock which is an extreme life-threatening allergic reaction.

He says the hope is that a new drug called Palforzia will eventually be able to be used in doctor’s offices.

“Having peanut allergies can be emotionally devastating to that parent. They worry and they won’t go out to dinner. I have a parent who would not let her child go to school. She was worried about her having a reaction,” says Harper.

He says the treatment is not a cure but protection against life threatening reactions. It’s a peanut powder used to reduce allergic reactions to peanuts for patients ages 4 to 17.

The goal is to slowly increase daily exposure to tiny amounts of the peanut powder and over several months reducing the severity of allergic reactions to small amounts of peanuts in many patients.

Hopefully allowing the patient to at least tolerate peanuts in case they ever come in contact with them.

“It’s a work in progress and we really want to find that magic bullet where we can do something they will never have to worry about again and this is a step along that path,” says Harper. Harper says if this new drug is approved it would be the first of its kind for the treatment of peanut allergies.

He says a final decision is expected early next year possibly in January.

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