Medication approved to help prevent food-based allergies

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The FDA recently approved a medication that can prevent food-based allergies.

Researchers estimate that 33 million Americans suffer from food allergies, including over five million children under 18. Recently, researchers have discovered a drug that’s been commonly prescribed to treat asthma and hives is now approved to prevent food allergies.

12-year-old Jack Webber from North Abington Township suffers from food allergies, a condition he was born with.

“I’m allergic to most tree nuts,” said Jack.

“Every year we get a new Epi-pen, we give one to the school nurse, and I keep one in my purse,” says Diane Webber Jack’s mom.

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Jack has to read food labels and avoid any products that contain nuts. Any contact with nuts causes an allergic reaction.

“I’ve had a few instances with walnuts. I usually get a tingly tongue and start throwing up,” added Jack,

“It’s important to take it seriously because the reaction can be pretty strong, and pretty scary,” continued Diane.

John’s allergic reactions occur within minutes of ingesting nuts and can become life-threatening if not treated quickly, according to experts.

“Anaphylaxis is a severe form of an allergic reaction that involves many organs that could be skin presented with hives, could be swelling of tissue, the upper airways could be obstructed, it could be gi symptoms where the patient would vomit, sometimes blood pressure drops down,” explained Dr. Raymond Khoudary M.D./ allergist.

Xolair has been shown in studies to substantially reduce the risk of anaphylaxis.

But even so, Dr. Khoudary says if you do take Xolair you should still carry an epi-pen just to be safe.

“The medication will help reduce the chance of accidental exposure to food by almost 70%. It’s not a cure, but it’ll reduce chances. If a child or person has food allergies then a chance of anaphylaxis will be much less,” stated Dr. Khoudary.

Xolair is an injectable medication that is prescribed once a month and it’s approved for people aged one and up. Skin tests and blood work would determine if a patient is eligible to take the drug.

Xolair is not new. Dr. Khoudary has been prescribing Xolair to treat other conditions such as asthma, hives, and nasal polyps for the past 20 years.

Epi-pen treats an allergic reaction to food while Xolair lowers the risk of anaphylaxis. Xolair is pricey at $2500 per injection so you must check with your health insurance company to see if it’s covered.

It’s meant to be used long-term, and you’ll want to talk to your doctor about possible side effects.

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