While it’s not a cure, parents of children with peanut allergies may be able to gain a little piece of mind thanks to a new drug aimed to help reduce severity of allergic reactions. 

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Palforzia, which can be used by children ages 4 through 17 to help increase their tolerance to small quantities of peanuts and decrease the risk of a reaction in case of accidental exposure. 

Peanuts

Allergy sufferers will still need to avoid all peanut products, but this new drug marks a positive step towards preventing severe and even fatal symptoms. 

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

The drug comes in powder form which can be mixed into foods such as applesauce or pudding for easier dosing.

“Even with strict avoidance, inadvertent exposures can and do occur. When used in conjunction with peanut avoidance, Palforzia provides an FDA-approved treatment option to help reduce the risk of these allergic reactions in children with peanut allergy,” said Marks.

Even trace amounts of peanuts can cause allergic reactions including hives, digestive problems, and constricted airways. 

The FDA noted that Palforzia is not to be used for emergency treatment in cases of anaphylaxis.

—Jennifer Swartvagher

Featured photo courtesy of Vladislav Nikonav via Unsplash. 

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