NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Most children love lunch time at school and classroom parties, but for parents of young ones with food allergies, it can be terrifying.
A first-of-its-kind drug for treating peanut allergies may bring them peace of mind.
It’s called Palforzi, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use last week.
“The hope is that it will take more peanut to cause a severe allergic reaction so they will be safer with unintentional peanut ingestion.” said Doctor Kelly Maples with Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Allergy, Asthma and Immunology specialty.
While Maples calls this an exciting time for patients and their families, she cautions the medicine is not a cure and there’s a lot to consider with it.
Side effects may include nausea, itching and severe inflammation of the esophagus. Some children have also had anaphylaxis — a life-threatening reaction — from the treatment.
“So it’s important to take a pause and learn the facts so you can make an informed decision if this is right for your child with peanut allergy.” Maples told WAVY.com.
Taking the drug also requires a big time commitment. The child must take the first dose at the doctor’s office and stay for two hours of observation. At home, parents must observe for two hours after taking the pill, so it shouldn’t be done before school or bedtime.
Children also can’t go to sports practices or games during that two hours because they can’t raise their core body temperature at that time.
“It can be really hard for families to do every single day,” Maples said.
Then, it’s back to the doctor every two weeks for the dose to be increased. This will happen about a dozen times until they reach the right maintenance dose.
It’s a lot to consider, but it could give caregivers and parent some hope.
“If this treatment can give them peace of mind and improve their quality of life and they feel safer, then I think its worth it,” Maples said.
There is no word yet on when the drug will be available.
It’s expected to cost nearly $900 a month but the drug company, Aimmune will offer an assistance program so some may be able to get it for as low as $20 a month.