Health Alert: Green Bay mom hopeful for new FDA approved peanut allergy treatment

Published: Feb. 10, 2020 at 4:07 PM CST
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A newly FDA approved peanut allergy treatment could add a little more peace of mind for one Green Bay family.

Later this year, 3-and-a-half-year-old Hudson Pink will head off to school with a severe peanut allergy.

“We found out when he had just turned 1,” said Cassie Pink, Hudson’s mom. “It was his first peanut exposure.”

Pink said a peanut butter sandwich made Hudson’s lips swell up instantly.

“It was just a little bite, and he had a huge reaction,” said Pink.

Even though Hudson’s only 3, he understands that he can’t have peanuts, but his mom knows accidents can happen.

“You don't realize how many products have peanuts -- and there isn't a lot of room for mistakes. That's the scary part,” said Pink. “If someone has, like, a peanut butter sandwich at school or somewhere else and then the tables aren’t wiped off, and he sits down and ingests some of it, it’s just that simple.”

That fear is why Pink is hopeful the newly approved peanut allergy treatment, called Palforzia, will help Hudson once he’s old enough to try it.

“This is a purified peanut protein,” said Dr. Alan James, an allergist with Bellin Health Asthma & Allergy. “It's a program that you start and you have to be from age 4 to 17.”

Dr. James said it’s a pretty strict program with three different phases. During each phase, you will open up the capsule and include the purified peanut protein in some type of food, whether it’s apple sauce or yogurt.

“The first day you start, you get five doses. And then within four days, you start the ‘every two-week’ treatment and it runs for about 22 weeks. Then at the end of 22 weeks, you go on to a steady dose that you take every day,” said Dr. James.

Some allergists have been trying peanut de-sensitization for some time now, but Dr. James said the Food and Drug Administration’s approval makes the treatment standardized and would require insurance to cover it to some degree.

“It won't make you able to enjoy a peanut butter cookie or a jar of peanuts. That’s not the point. The point is to protect you from an inadvertent exposure to buy you time or fewer symptoms,” said Dr. James. “You will continue to carry your epi pen and limit your exposure as much as possible.”

At the end of the trial and after undergoing the treatment, Dr. James said testers looked at different amounts of peanut the child or person could tolerate. Fifty percent of people tolerated 1,000 milligrams, 75% tolerated 600 milligrams and 94% tolerated 300 milligrams. Dr. James said one peanut is equal to 250 milligrams, so it’s a very small amount of peanut that you’re protected against.

Although it’s not a large amount, Dr. James said it still offers a “level of protection we haven't been offer able to offer before.”

It’s something Pink is looking forward to when Hudson starts school this fall.

“Just the peace of mind knowing that if he does come across peanuts or ingests peanuts that you know it's not going to be as severe of a reaction and save his life.”

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