What does new peanut allergy treatment mean for Minnesotans?

For decades, parents with children who suffer from peanut allergies have been encouraged to avoid the allergen. 

But a new treatment could be a game changer for millions of peanut allergy sufferers.

A California biotechnology company created a capsule that could become the first drug to provide protection against serious allergic reactions.

Dr. Douglas McMahon, a doctor at the Allergy and Asthma Center of Minnesota, said it’s estimated that up to 2 million people in the U.S. have a peanut allergy.

“What they did is put peanut flour into capsules in certain doses and then each capsule has a little bit more," said Dr. McMahon said. "So it’s kind of what we’ve been doing, but a big company isn’t making it, we’re going through a compounding pharmacy, so they’re just trying to mainstream this." 

With no cure, this new treatment could save more lives.

“It’s super rewarding for us to see patients and parents super excited where they live in fear about not being in contact with peanut products,” Dr. McMahon said.

Aimmune Therapeutics’ study consisted of nearly 500 children. According to the company, more than 65 percent of the kids were able to tolerate the equivalent of two peanuts at the end of its experimental treatment.

But, Dr. McMahon said the treatment may not be for everybody.

“It’s actually a very lengthy process," Dr. McMahon said. "It’s often one dose a day and you oftentimes have to take it at the same time. You often can’t do strenuous exercise afterwards within two hours, and if you’re sick you might need to adjust the dose, and there are risks during that."

After scoring its first clinical win, the company is now set on FDA approval.

“It’s really encouraging," Dr. McMahon said. "It’s something to say to people with food allergies; you don’t need to just sit back, it’s not for everybody. There’s risks with it, but at least there’s options now."

If the capsule in the study is given the green light, the first six months of the treatment could cost upwards of $10,000. The company plans to seek approval later this year.