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A controversial oral treatment for peanut allergies is being widely debated as it takes one step closer to being approved. Palforzia, a standardized peanut powder product, has been recommended for approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Despite this recommendation, many allergen experts are not so quick to hop on the approval train. The peanut powder product is meant to help reduce allergic reactions to peanuts and peanut products for kids and teens between the ages of 4 and 17. The immunotherapy treatment was developed by the pharmaceutical company Aimmune Therapeutics. 

According to the Food Allergy Research and Education group, researchers estimate that about 32 million people have food allergies. About 5.6 million of those people are kids under the age of 18. This equals out to about 1 in 13 kids suffering from food allergies, or roughly two kids in every American classroom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the prevalence of food allergies in U.S. children under 18 increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011. They also estimate that the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergies more than tripled in U.S. children between 1997 and 2008. Peanut and tree nut allergies are two of the top 8 most common foods that cause allergies. Peanuts are the most common food allergen in U.S. children and up to 2.5% of the United States pediatric population currently suffers from Peanut allergies alone. Studies show that only about 20% of children “outgrow” their peanut allergy, leading researchers to believe that the number of adults living with Peanut allergies will greatly increase over the next two decades. 

Palforzia, the standardized peanut powder product currently up for debate, is meant to reduce or stop the immune system’s overreaction to peanuts by taking a small dose of peanut protein each day, gradually increasing the dosage over a period of months. When the treatment is effective, it can help patients withstand small amounts of peanuts that would have otherwise caused dangerous allergic reactions. Allergy Immunology Clinic, based in Portland, Oregon, believes the new treatment could be groundbreaking in terms of addressing the growing food allergy epidemic in the U.S. As with any new potential treatment being introduced, many are still on the fence and aren’t sure how to feel about the FDA’s pending approval. Some believe the oral immunotherapy could actually cause more peanut allergy reactions and don’t believe the data presented on the new treatment demonstrates the safety nor efficiency of the product. While the proposed oral immunotherapy would not cure the increasing number of peanut allergies, it could potentially decrease the number, and severity, of peanut allergy-related instances. 

Allergy Immunology Clinic delivers the highest quality clinical care to children and adults suffering from allergic and immune disorders. Based in Portland, Oregon, the clinic believes the key to good allergy management is to help the individual patient understand the nature of his or her difficulties and develop skills to control his or her problems effectively. Board-certified Allergist, Dr. David Bilstrom, has served the Portland area for more than 32 years. If you are interested in learning more about the Allergy Immunology Clinic and how they can help you, visit www.allergypdx.com for more information.