What to Know About Xolair and Food Allergies

The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug this month that cuts the risk of severe reactions in children and adults exposed to trace amounts of peanuts, tree nuts, milk, dairy and other food allergens — a move that could dramatically improve quality of life for people coping with these risks. The results of the clinical trial supporting the decision were published on Sunday.

While the drug, Xolair, offers a new layer of protection to people who may have life-threatening reactions to common foods, and especially to those who are allergic to several foods, its use comes with important caveats.

No. Xolair is not a cure for food allergies, nor can it be used to treat acute reactions. People who take Xolair must continue to avoid foods that they are allergic to.

But Xolair can significantly reduce the odds that people with severe food allergies will develop acute reactions if they ingest minute amounts of allergens, like peanuts or eggs in prepared foods, or are exposed to trace amounts in some other way.

People must take the drug continuously in order to benefit from its protection. Even then, the drug does not entirely eliminate the risk.

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