Sep 16, 2019

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.

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How to make methadone more available

Methadose tablets, the concentrated form of methadone. Photo: Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

As the opioid epidemic rages on, methadone — 1 of 3 approved medications to treat opioid use disorder — can be hard to come by, according to a new article in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: Although it's effective, it's heavily regulated and can only be obtained at opioid treatment programs. These are subject to strict federal, state and even local rules. But many communities don't have enough treatment programs to meet the demand for them.

Go deeperArrowSep 24, 2019

Lifesaving drugs could be missing on commercial flights

Photo: Michael H/Getty Images

It's illegal for U.S. airlines to take off without a kit of lifesaving drugs on board, but the Federal Aviation Administration has been handing out exemptions because some of those drugs are facing shortages, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Domestic and international flights must carry drugs for severe allergic reactions, cardiac arrest, irregular heart rhythm, slow heart rates and low blood sugar. In 2016, more than 50 airlines were granted 4-year exemptions from the requirement to carry all 5 drugs in the medical kit.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

Jimmy Carter, the oldest living U.S. president, turns 95

Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Former President Jimmy Carter, the longest living U.S. president in history, turns 95 on Tuesday.

The backdrop: The title was previously held by former President George H. W. Bush, who died in December 2018 at the age of 94, per CNN. Carter, who grew up in Georgia as the son of a peanut farmer and still lives there today, was the 39th president.

Go deeper ... Jimmy Carter: I hope there's an age limit on presidency