'Life-changing' peanut allergy drug to be to be given to UK children

23 December 2021, 09:18 | Updated: 23 December 2021, 09:57

A new drug for peanut allergies will be given to children in England
A new drug for peanut allergies will be given to children in England. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Life-changing treatment will be offered to children in England with peanut allergies, after the NHS secured a deal for a new treatment.

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Palforzia, an oral treatment, will be offered to children in England. It helps to reduce the severity of symptoms including anaphylaxis, after a reaction to peanuts.

The drug is expected to "make a huge impact to the everyday lives" of those with peanut allergies, making it easier for them to visit restaurants and go on holiday.

Currently, peanut allergies affect one in 50 children in the UK, and up to 600 children aged four to 17 are expected to be treated with the drug this year, with around 2,000 expected a year after that.

Evelina London Children's Hospital took part in two large peanut allergy trials - the Palisade and Artemis studies.

The Artemis study found that around six in 10, four to 17-year-olds, who reacted to around 10g of peanut protein at the start of the trial were able to take a dose of 1,000mg of it by the end, which is well above the amount of accidental exposure.

Sophie Pratt said her family's lives had changed after her daughter Emily, nine, took part in the Palisade trial.

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She said: "Being on the clinical trial has changed our whole family's lives.

"The treatment we received has meant that Emily is free from limits and the fear that the tiniest mistake could put her life at risk, and it has removed all the tension and worry that the simple act of eating loomed over us every day.

"It was particularly noticeable at special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and on holidays where there are often special foods like cakes, ice cream and treats that invariable had warnings, 'may contain peanuts' or menus not in English.

"Since the trial, Emily can go to parties and playdates with confidence, eat in restaurants without us having to call ahead to check the menu, and we've managed to have her first holiday abroad to New York and even taken part in feeding animals at zoo experiences - which is Emily's passion.

"We could not be more grateful."

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: "This pioneering treatment can be life-changing for patients and their families and, thanks to the deal the NHS has struck, people here will be the first in Europe to benefit.

"It will reduce the fear and anxiety for patients and their families who may have been living with this allergy for years, and carrying around emergency medication just in case.

"They should be able to enjoy meals out or holidays abroad together without worrying about an allergic reaction that could land them in hospital or worse."

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Professor George du Toit, children's allergy consultant at Evelina London, was senior investigator for the UK for both of the trials.

He said: "This is great news for children and young people with peanut allergies.

"The approval of Palforzia represents a significant step forward towards improving the care for allergy sufferers, and we will now have access to the first treatment licensed to reduce the severity of this allergy and to protect against accidental exposure to peanuts.

"This will make a huge impact to the every day lives of our patients and their families."