Ian Turner was diagnosed with peanut allergies in 2001. He tried Palforzia, which is the only world-approved drug for this condition. However, even a small amount of nuts can be dangerous to his health.
He accidentally drank a large amount of peanut butter smoothie several months after the procedure was completed.
Ms Turner said, “The medication saved the life of my child.” “I cannot tell you how much weight was lifted from our family’s shoulders,” said Ms Turner.
Nestle reports that the drug has failed commercially due to lower than expected uptake by doctors.
Two years ago, Nestle purchased Palforzia’s manufacturer, Aimmune Therapeutics for $2.6bn (PS2.1bn). Experts believe it is exploring strategic options for the drug.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, peanut allergies are common in about 1 million American children. Anaphylactic shock can cause death and serious allergies may lead to severe reactions. There are no treatments.
Palforzia is not a cure for allergy but can reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Family members and providers agree that the medication isn’t a good fit for everyone. It requires visits to the doctor approximately every two weeks. However, the disappointing results of the drug have raised concerns over future investments in food allergy research and drug design.
According to Kenneth Mendez (president and chief executive officer of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), allergies can also have other adverse effects on patients.
It’s a difficult journey for parents of peanut allergy children.
Stacy Sturner has a son with peanut allergies and says that food allergies can make it feel like “not being accepted”.
According to Ms Turner, the condition can make it difficult for people to share food with each other. She also manages a Facebook Group called “Food Allergy Treatment Talk”, in which experts and their families discuss new therapy options.
The FDA approved Palforzia in January 2020. It is the only medication that can reduce peanut allergy symptoms for children between the ages of four and 17. To reduce the chance of serious reactions such as anaphylaxis, it gradually exposes children allergic to peanuts (or their parents) to greater amounts of the nut.
Nestle spokesperson told BBC that they could not speculate about “next steps” or the implications of selling the drug on to other companies.
According to Tim van Biesen (managing partner at Bain & Company’s Global Healthcare practice), selling Palforzia would make Palforzia more accessible.
He said that patients should be concerned if they are unable to locate a buyer for the company.
Although Palforzia has been used by some patients, there are many reasons why it is not being widely popular.
Many providers have been discouraged from providing the treatment because of complicated billing processes. This has made it more difficult for patients to access the treatment and also meant that some are unable to make the commitment to visit the clinic twice a week for the required treatment. Panida Shriaroon is the medical director at the Johns Hopkins Food Allergy Clinic.
Another impediment was the coronavirus. According to Mr Van Biesen, Bain & Company, the pandemic started shortly after medication approval. This prevented many people from seeing their doctor.
Palforzia’s poor performance may be a warning sign for companies considering investment in allergy therapies.
Ms. Sturner stated that “there is still a huge disconnect between what investors desire and what the food allergy community requires.”