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NHS England has secured a deal for a drug that decreases the severity of symptoms including anaphylaxis. Palforzia, which is administered orally, will be available to up to 600 children aged four to 17 the first year and 2,000 the following year.
It will ease the stress on the estimated one in 50 children across the UK who suffer from a peanut allergy.
It will also ease the burden on their families – who have to constantly worry about eating contaminated food and carry adrenaline injections to treat a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said the drug would help “reduce the fear and anxiety for patients and their families who may have been living with this allergy for years”.
He added: “This pioneering treatment can be life-changing for patients and their families and, thanks to the deal the NHS has struck, people here will be the first in Europe to benefit.”
It should mean that families are able to “enjoy meals out or holidays abroad together without worrying about an allergic reaction that could land them in hospital or worse,” he explained.
The drug was developed after two large peanut allergy clinical trials – the Palisade and Artemis studies – which the Evelina London children’s hospital took part in.
Sophie Pratt’s nine-year-old daughter Emily took part in the trial.
She said it “had changed our whole family’s lives”.
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She added: “The treatment we received has meant that Emily is free from limits and the fear that the tiniest mistake could put her life at risk, and it has removed all the tension and worry that the simple act of eating loomed over us every day.”
Since the trial, Emily had been able to attend parties with confidence, feed animals at the zoo and take her first holiday to New York, Ms Pratt said.
She explained that the change “was particularly noticeable at special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and on holidays where there are often special foods like cakes, ice cream and treats that invariably had warnings, ‘may contain peanuts’ or menus not in English”.
An Imperial College London study found that, of the 187 people who died from anaphylaxis in the UK from 1992 to 2018, at least 86, or 46 percent, suffered from peanut or other nut allergies.
The news is an example of how the UK has pushed ahead of its European counterparts since Brexit.
This most notably happened during the coronavirus pandemic when the UK’s vaccine rollout far outpaced the EU’s for months.
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