Parent Survival Guide: New drug to treat peanut allergies in children

Updated: Feb. 18, 2020 at 10:11 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It's considered a game changer for young people who suffer with food allergies specifically peanut allergies.

The food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine that can help children from having a life threatening emergency.

The Food and Drug Administration estimates around 1 million children in the U.S. have peanut allergies.

Only about 20 percent will grow out of them prompting many parents like Rebecca Obenza who has two peanut allergic school age kids to always be on high alert.

“At a young age when they are putting everything in their mouth, its scary. It’s still scary,” Obenza says.

But now Obenza along with other parents of children between the ages of 4 and 17 can relieve some fears.

After the FDA's approval of a new drug called Palforzia which is used to help reduce severe and even sometimes deadly reactions to peanuts.

“It really allows a good bit of freedom for the patient and the families ensuring that they have a safe enviornment that is free of a risk of allergic reactions,” Allergist Dr. Merideth Moore says.

Moore says the powdered medicine is made from peanuts, and is added to food such as applesauce or yogurt.

She says although Palforzia will not cure a child's allergy to peanuts, if the kids are exposed to peanuts at school or in everyday life a major reaction can be prevented.

“I always worry when I get phone calls that they have been exposed to something and maybe going to the hospital. so feeling better about it would mean a lot,” Obenza says.

Even more promising, Moore says, is that studies show 67 percent of peanut allergic kids who took Palforzia while it was being tested were able to tolerate the equivalant of up to two peanuts.

“Which is huge for providing an extra layer of protection for kids and families who may be affected with peanut allergy,” Moore says.

Moore says a possible side effect of Palforzia is anaphylaxis or an allergic reaction, so its initally taken it in the doctor’s office.

Palforzia’s price is currently at $890 a month before insurance coverage.

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