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Allergists prepare to prescribe FDA-approved drug to reduce peanut sensitivity

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PEANUT BUTTER

PEORIA (WEEK) -- Doctors are preparing to prescribe a new FDA approved drug that will help those suffering from the most common food allergen.

Steven Smart, an allergist with Allergy and Asthma of Illinois in Peoria, said his office is currently creating prescribing protocols to begin treating their patients with Palforiza.

The drug was just recently FDA approved to reduce the peanut sensitivity in those allergic to the food.

"Like our allergy shots that we do for pollens and molds and pets and dust mites except because it's in food, instead of a shot it's in an oral form," Smart said.

Those on the drug -- which is for people 4 and older -- still will not be able to eat peanut butter sandwiches but Smart said the drug will help reduce the daily anxiety they live with.

"We're going to be able to do to build up at least some degree tolerance to peanut so that accidental small exposures won't cause a reaction," he explained.

Before this drug, the only way to prevent an allergic reaction to peanuts was by avoiding it altogether.

If an allergic reaction does happen Smart said the best way to help is through a shot of epinephrine. The shot, Smart explained, is adrenaline that completely reverses anaphylaxis which could differ in severity.

"Allergic reactions could be as mild as just itching and flushing and hives to as severe as your tongue and your throat are closing and you're passing out and your heart is having problems. It could be anything from a very mild reaction to potentially death," he said.

Smart said that oftentimes children find out they are allergic to something while at school, during their first allergic reaction.

So to help those working with children across the state one lawmaker, State Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D) 57th District, is sponsoring a bill that would make anaphylaxis training mandatory in schools and daycares.

"[It would be for] support staff, teachers, people working in the building to be able to recognize and to implement interventions. As we continue to learn more about food allergies it so important that we have the right training and the right tools available," Carroll said.

That would include administering epinephrine. Carroll said he has received support from his fellow lawmakers on his bill.

For more information on Palforzia visit the Food & Drug Administration website.

Stephanie Rodriguez

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