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Peanut allergy medicine gets closer to approval

Photo: Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

A vast majority of experts on a federal allergy panel said a new treatment to minimize reactions to peanut allergies is safe and effective, which may signal possible FDA approval of the drug in January.

Why it matters: The treatment, made by Aimmune Therapeutics and sold under the brand name Palforzia, could provide relief to parents worried about their kids getting an anaphylactic reaction from peanut exposure. 

Yes, but: Palforzia comes with a lot of question marks.

  • Patients and their caregivers still must carry an injectable epinephrine. The pill doesn't replace an EpiPen, and in fact epinephrine use increased with the drug.
  • Palforzia's price will be between $3,000 and $20,000 annually. It’s unclear what rebates would look like, but that’s not a small amount.
  • The drug is essentially peanut flour in a capsule, and James Hamblin asks in The Atlantic why peanut powder can't be sold as a cheaper supplement instead.

The bottom line: The first immunotherapy for peanut allergies could be close to hitting the market next year, despite concerns of how well it works, and more therapies are being developed.

Go deeper: Food allergies more common among adults in the U.S.