Approval Sought for Child Food Allergy Drug

Food allergy
Common food allergens including egg, milk, soya, peanuts, hazelnut, fish, seafood, and wheat flour | Image by monticello/Shutterstock

Children affected by severe food allergies might have a new treatment option this year.

The makers of a drug typically used to treat asthma have submitted a review application to the Food and Drug Administration to see its use extended to treat food allergies among children, reported The Hill. The FDA is expected to give its answer in late March.

California-based Genentech and Switzerland-based Novartis developed omalizumab, marketed as Xolair, decades ago to treat allergy-induced asthma. The first phase of a federally funded trial of Xolair’s effectiveness in preventing severe allergic reactions to food proved favorable to proceeding with an additional two phases of the trial.

The first trial phase involved 165 children and adolescents who received shots of Xolair every two to four weeks for 16 to 20 weeks.

Next, a longer course of treatment will be investigated as well as a mixed treatment plan involving oral immunotherapy, in which participants will be exposed to growing amounts of a particular food allergen in order to build their bodies’ resistance to it.

This is similar to epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), another revolutionary method currently being investigated to treat allergies among children.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, EPIT involves delivering small doses of an allergen through a skin patch. A study by the French biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies testing out the Viaskin patch on children aged 1 to 3 with peanut allergies yielded promising results.

The prevalence of food allergies among children has grown in recent years, with an estimated 1 in 13 having an allergic reaction to the ingestion of certain foods, according to FARE. The typical culprits of serious allergic reactions are eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and sesame.

Among juvenile allergy sufferers, 42% have already had a serious allergic reaction. This includes anaphylactic shock, which is when the trachea constricts and hinders breathing, requiring a shot of epinephrine.

Emergency room visits for children having severe reactions to allergens tripled between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s.

Some studies have linked the growth of food allergies to children being overweight or obese. As covered in The Dallas Express, childhood obesity is a serious public health issue in the United States, especially in Texas.

Texas children ages 10-17 showed an obesity rate of 20.3% in 2019-2020, beating the national rate by over four percentage points, a study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found.

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