TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The FDA approved the first drug to treat peanut allergies in children on Friday. Palforzia introduces children to small peanut doses over time, and is designed to reduce the chance of a severe allergic reaction from accidental ingestion.
Cooper Naab, 12, is one of more than 1.5 million children in the United States with a peanut allergy. He was diagnosed with a severe allergy at age two, leaving his mom, Kelly Naab, concerned for everyday activities.
"It was a lot of years of worry," she said. "Worry for birthday parties, you know sporting events. He's an athlete, so he played on multiple teams, so I always had to be careful what snacks they were bringing."
Now, Cooper is able to eat 10 peanuts. He's undergoing Oral Immunotherapy Treatment, OIT for short, at Dr. Jeffrey B. Rockoff's office in Tonawanda. Rockoff's program is designed to have similar effects on the body, that the newly approved drug Palforzia has.
Rockoff said Palforzia could make a big difference for a lot of families with severely allergic kids, but emphasized that the drug is not a cure.
"Most patients are not going to be able to just eat peanuts randomly," Rockoff said. "It's a specific protocol to lower their sensitivity, especially the severely allergic patients to make it less likely that they'll anaphyhlax, but it's not so they can just randomly eat peanuts whenever they want."
Rockoff said he's concerned with the treatment's cost, he said it is about $4,000 a year. He added that his OIT treatment introduces patients to a stronger peanut dosage.
"I think it's been a long time coming, and I think down the road there will be other products that they could potentially FDA approve," Rockoff said.
Changing the lives of more kids like Cooper.
"The best part is not ahving to worry, and I can eat more things," he said.