Palforzia Exciting New Hope
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new medication developed by Aimmune Therapeutics, Inc., Palforzia, for individuals with peanut allergies.
Palforzia is the first approved therapy for individuals with a peanut allergy – also the first for any food allergy.
Currently, more than 1.6 million US children and teens suffer from peanut allergies, with symptoms and reactions to exposure ranging from mild to life-threatening. Accidental peanut exposure causes one of every five patients with peanut allergies to visit an emergency room each year.
We want to answer some of the most asked questions about Palforzia to help you better understand its purpose and benefits.
What is Palforzia?
Palforzia is oral immunotherapy that helps mitigate the allergic reactions associated with accidental exposure to peanut by gradually decreasing sensitivity.
Who can use Palforzia?
Treatment can start for children between the ages of 4 and 17. A patient who turns 18 during treatment with Palforzia can continue the medication as instructed by their physician.
How is Palforzia used?
Through structured daily dosing, Palforzia, a complex biologic medication, provides minimal quantities of the allergen through incremental increases to help mitigate accidental allergic reactions. Administration in a REMS-certified healthcare setting is required for the initial dose, along with the first dose of each new up-dosing level. The provider administering the medication must have epinephrine on hand and immediately available. Patients require at least 60 minutes of observation in the medical setting during and after the initial and each subsequent up-dosing treatment.
Can we use Palforzia during an allergic reaction?
No, Palforzia does not treat allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. Do not use this medication during an allergic reaction.
Does this mean my child can start eating peanuts or peanut products?
No, Palforzia is not a cure for an allergy to peanuts. Patients must adhere to a strict, peanut-free diet while using this medication.
Is Palforzia automatically available to everyone with a peanut allergy?
No, the medication is only available through the Palforzia REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) restricted program.
Is Palforzia expensive?
There are co-pay programs as well as Patient Assistant Programs available to help people afford Palforzia or to receive it at no cost if eligible.
Are there dangers of using Palforzia?
Yes, there are warnings that Palforzia can cause anaphylaxis at any time during treatment. Patients receiving the medication must also have injectable epinephrine on hand – and know how to use it. Also, patients with uncontrolled asthma or a history of eosinophilic esophagitis or other eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases should not use Palforzia.
What are the most common side effects of Palforzia?
Abdominal pain, anaphylactic reaction, cough, swelling or itching of the face, tongue, eyes, or lips, dizziness, severe stomach pain, hives or itchy skin reaction, breathing difficulty or wheezing, trouble speaking, throat irritation or tightness, vomiting, stuffy or runny nose, nausea, and sneezing are the most commonly reported reactions.
Can we start using Palforzia if my child has had a recent anaphylactic reaction?
No, initiation of Palforzia is contraindicated if an anaphylactic reaction has occurred within 60 days.
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2020 Magazine