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First drug to reduce allergic reactions in people with food allergies approved by FDA

The FDA has approved the first and only medication that reduces allergic reactions in people with food allergies…..

More than 17 million children and adults in the US have the most common type of food allergy that causes the rapid onset of symptoms, sometimes life-threatening. Parents of young children, in particular, live in fear of accidental exposure at, for example, birthday parties and playdates.

But Xolair, a monoclonal antibody injected under the skin at least once a month, which has already been approved to treat asthma, has been shown to reduce the risk of severe reaction. 

A study sponsored by the NIH showed patients with food allergies, as young as one year, who were treated with Xolair were significantly more likely to tolerate small amounts of peanut, milk, egg, and cashew without an allergic reaction compared to those on a placebo. 

The medication is not intended for use during an allergic reaction. Instead, it is designed to be taken repeatedly every few weeks to help reduce the risk of reactions over time. The FDA said people taking the drug should continue to avoid foods they are allergic to.

“While it will not eliminate food allergies or allow patients to consume food allergens freely, its repeated use will help reduce the health impact if accidental exposure occurs,” said Kelly Stone with the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The drug was developed and co-promoted in the US by Genentech and Novartis.

Some of the most common side effects include fever and a reaction to the injection site. The drug also warns that the medication itself can trigger anaphylaxis. Genentech and Novartis advise that a heath care provider monitors a person who is starting to use Xolair.

Costly treatment

The cost of the medication ranges from $2,900 a month for children and $5,000 a month for adults, though the cost could be brought down with insurance, according to the Associated Press.

As of 2021, about 1 in 16 adults in the US have a food allergy and it impacts women and Black adults at higher rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no current cure for food allergies.

Xolair has already been approved by the FDA to treat some cases of persistent asthma triggered by allergies, chronic hives and chronic inflammatory sinus disease with nasal polyps.

The drug is administered by injection every two or four weeks. Over time, Xolair has proven to help some people tolerate foods they are allergic to, according to a study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Source: NPR

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