The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medication to treat potentially deadly peanut allergies in children.
And while food allergies are growing in prevalence among all children, some research has shown that Black children are at an increased risk for food allergy and its effects, Physician’s Weekly reports.
The drug Palforzia works by helping to increase patients’ tolerance to peanuts, thereby reducing the risk of a dangerous reaction, according to USA Today.
“Peanut allergy affects approximately 1 million children in the U.S., and only one out of five of these children will outgrow their allergy,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told the news organization. “Because there is no cure, allergic individuals must strictly avoid exposure to prevent severe and potentially life-threatening reactions.”
Palforzia is approved for youngsters age 4 to 17 who have a confirmed diagnosis of allergy, but the FDA warns that it should not be considered a green light to eating peanuts. Allergy sufferers must still avoid eating peanuts, the federal agency said.
“It’s been a life-changer,” sufferer Nina Nichols, 18, is quoted as saying by USA Today.
The teen took part in a Palforzia research study to provide more guidance on side effects and its effectiveness. The powdered drug is made from peanuts, and patients mix it with small amounts of soft food such as apple sauce or yogurt.
And while the drug is showing promise, data on children of color and food allergies is lacking, Dr. Mahboobeh Mahdavinia told Physician’s Weekly.
“Nearly all available information is focused on Caucasian children because food allergies are thought to be an issue of affluent societies and higher-income families,” she said.
Another physician, one who works with the federal government, told USA Today that overall, Palforzia is a game changer.
“For so long, we had nothing to offer those patients,” Dr. Pamela Guerrerio of the National Institutes of Health told the news organization.
NIH funds a good portion of food allergy research.
“We finally have a treatment,” Guerrerio said. “That’s a big step.
Palforzia is produced by Aimmune Therapuetics. The company told USA Today that it is hopeful prescriptions may begin in a few weeks.