New FDA-approved drug & alternative treatments both offer hope for peanut allergies

Peanuts (WCIV).JPG
New FDA-approved drug & alternative treatments both offer hope for peanut allergies (WCIV)

Tight brown curls and a powder blue dress don't hold 4-year-old Surrey Trudeau back from chasing her 1-year-old brother Felix around in the yard.

"I love brownies!" she declared!

But the freedom to eat those delectable chocolate squares didn't always exist for the West Ashley preschooler.

"She, not long after, had a full blown anaphylactic reaction, full body hives, it was very scary," explained Surrey's mom Jennifer Trudeau, reflecting on the first sign of Surrey's peanut allergy.

"I didn't know a whole lot and I had not taken food allergies too seriously before," she added. "I didn't have any experience. I didn't know anybody with them either."

In search of options to better control Surrey's allergy, Jennifer read about Oral Immunotherapy online.

"She was a good candidate for OIT so we started right about two-and-a-half [years old]," explained Jennifer.

Jennifer says the therapy works in micro-grams of peanut protein, via peanut flour mixed in Kool-aid.

So every couple of weeks we'd have an up-dose and she's worked her way from literally micro-grams of peanut protein all the way up to 2 full peanuts.

The West Ashley mom says the non-FDA approved treatment works to protect Surrey from accidental exposure.

"If she were to every accidentally eat something, she's protected from cross contamination now," explained Jennifer. "And that's the big thing because where before, you know, a fraction of a fraction of a peanut could kill her. "

Today, even more treatment options for peanut allergy sufferers like Surrey are available. Just last week, the very first FDA approved treatment, 'Palforzia,' was released.

"It is a capsule that'll be taken daily indefinitely. So it's not a cure for the allergy but it helps to lessen the reaction if you were to get exposed to the peanut.

With food allergies on the rise in general, Dr. Dietrich says the new treatment is a big deal.

"We've been waiting for an FDA approved treatment for a long time," said Dr. Jeff Dietrich with Charleston Allergy & Asthma. "Previously when people had food allergies, there's not been any real treatment. It's been more avoiding that food and waiting to see if it'll go away over time."

Dr. Dietrich says his office has worked with Oral Immunotherapy patients in the past, but is now searching for candidates for the new treatment.

"It's a great therapy that's going to make people more comfortable, especially for parents who are worried about children going off and becoming exposed to peanuts," says Dr. Dietrich.

Shown Surrey's success with Oral Immunotherapy, Jennifer says she will stick with the prior alternative.

"OIT is pretty straight forward and pretty successful without a prescription, without a huge bill every month for a pill and that's a lot," adds Jennifer.

For both treatments alike, experts stress always having products like Epi-Pens for the extra layer of protection.