Many allergists never thought they would see a viable treatment for food allergy. Yet with oral immunotherapy (OIT) and the new “peanut pill,” food allergies can be treated and made less life threatening. Palforzia (Aimmune Therapeutics, Inc., Brisbane, CA) is the first ever FDA-approved treatment of its kind, and this breakthrough could change the lives of people living with peanut allergy.
What Is OIT?
Oral immunotherapy is a treatment in which the patient is fed some of the allergen that they are allergic to. The dose starts out very small, and it is increased slowly over time. The principle behind OIT is that as the immune system is exposed to the allergen in this manner, the allergic reaction will become less severe or require a larger dose to occur. This is because an allergy is simply the immune system seeing an allergen as an attacker. OIT retrains the immune system to lessen this response.
What About the Peanut Pill?
Palforzia is the first FDA-approved, standardized OIT for peanut allergy. Some allergy offices, including ours, also offer OIT using the food itself, such as peanut flour and peanuts. Palforzial works the same way that OIT works, but with a standardized approach.
Is It for Everyone?
OIT is not the best treatment option for every patient with food allergy. There are risks to the therapy and allergic reactions can still occur. It is most effective for children. There may be medical conditions, such as uncontrolled asthma, that preclude you from taking OIT. There are also social, family, financial and other factors that should be considered. You should discuss your medical history and lifestyle with your allergist/immunologist so you can make the best decision about if OIT using Palforzia or another product is right for you and your family. Patients who use OIT will still always have an allergy, and they will still have to carry epinephrine for emergencies.
If you are curious about whether Palforzia or OIT in general might benefit you or your child, contact us today for more information or to schedule your appointment.