Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Skin Patch Proves Effective for Peanut Allergies, EpiPen Rival Is On Its Way

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Did you know that as many as 8 million Americans, roughly 2.5% of the U.S. population, has food allergies? Focusing on children, peanut allergies are known to be the main cause of anaphylaxis, and EpiPens have long been used to aid such individuals when a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction occurs. However, with recent price hikes on the EpiPen, this type of treatment has become unaffordable for many.   An alternate form of treatment is necessary and, fortunately, there may be an answer to this (or two).

According to a recent article from the National Institutes of Health, “a wearable patch that delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin shows promise for treating children and young adults with peanut allergy, with greater benefits for younger children.” These findings come from a clinical trial that has been ongoing, and the treatment’s official name is epicutaneous immunotherapy (or EPIT). 

In the article, Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation (DAIT), explains how this treatment is designed to work. Ultimately, the goal of epicutaneous immunotherapy is to “engage the immune system in the skin to train the body to tolerate small amounts of allergen”.   Compared to other oral treatments that proved to be hard for about 10-15% of children and adults to tolerate, the patch appeared to be more effective and was found to be a safe and well-tolerated treatment.

Alongside this announcement comes the announcement of a rival to the EpiPen – Kaléo, Inc.’s Auvi-Q auto-injector. With the EpiPen’s recent increase in cost, Kaleo explains that they understand the challenges patients are currently facing, and it is their goal to provide affordable access to their auto-injector. The Auvi-Q device contains the same epinephrine drug that is found in Mylan’s EpiPens, comes with a voice-prompt system that helps patients as they use it, and is equipped with a needle that will automatically retract after administration is complete. Currently, no list price has been announced by Kaléo, Inc.

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