The first treatment for peanut allergy has won approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The drug, Palforzia, will list for $890 a month and brings its own risks, the Wall Street Journal reports. And the treatment, approved for those ages 4 to 17, won't make it possible for children with the life-threatening condition to have a peanut butter sandwich. But it could bring long-sought relief to families that have had to build their lives around avoiding exposures. Patients who are prescribed Palforzia, which contains small amounts of peanuts, take gradually increasing doses to build their resistance. The idea is to reduce the allergic reaction after accidental exposures; one study showed children who had the treatment could then handle exposure to more peanuts without a problem. It's not clear how long patients would have to take Palforzia, per the Washington Post.
Another study couldn't tell whether the Aimmune Therapeutics drug is any more effective than just avoiding peanuts or undergoing the immunotherapy already in use. But a major goal of researchers, and families, is relieving anxiety. The mother of a teenager whose teenage son has been involved in a clinical trial said, "He'll never have a peanut butter sandwich, but if he goes out with friends to some Chinese restaurant and accidentally gets a peanut, he's OK." A Maryland 8-year-old who's been in a trial for four years has found the treatment to be, for her, imperfect. And following the regimen is demanding. Still, she and her family are pleased. "I've gone on a vacation, can sit at a normal table with the normal kids when I want to, go to the theater without wiping the seat down, can go to a hotel safely, can fly on a plane now," Giuliana Ortega said. (Read more peanut allergy stories.)