Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Needle-Free Epinephrine May Soon Be a Reality October 15, 2019

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By now, we all know that epinephrine is the first – and best – line of defense against a severe food allergy reaction called anaphylaxis.  But when symptoms of anaphylaxis first appear, many patients and caregivers hesitate to give it.  Why?


Not only are patients unsure about the timing to deliver a dose of the life-saving medication, but they tend to pause at the idea of giving an injection.  Parents worry that it will be difficult to administer or that it will scare/hurt their children. And, patients are at risk for minor injuries associated with delivery such as lacerations and misfirings.  Doctors and clinicians say epinephrine auto-injectors are “underused” in an emergency.  Delays in administration of epinephrine during anaphylaxis put the patient at risk for a more severe reaction that could require more medication to stabilize.


To date, patients have had a single option for getting a dose of epinephrine: an injection given to the patient through the outer, muscular part of the thigh.  But the food allergy community has long wondered, is there another way?


Enter: intranasal epinephrine.  

Essentially: epinephrine delivered through a nasal spray.


Researchers have examined how well the body absorbs epinephrine when it is given intranasally as compared to intramuscular injection (the way epinephrine is currently administered through auto-injectors).  What they found surprised us all:  epinephrine can be absorbed and distributed throughout the body as a nasal spray just as well as it would an injection.


This is wonderful news for patients and caregivers that are afraid of needles.  But it’s also good news for those wanting to help in an emergency.  Because nasal sprays are a less invasive treatment, patients and caregivers may find themselves more likely to act quickly, administering much-needed epinephrine sooner and more frequently than they would otherwise.  Nasal sprays could make acting in those first critical minutes of anaphylaxis easier which could make follow-on emergency treatment less complicated and would ultimately save lives.


A few pharmaceutical companies have begun developing intranasal epinephrine products.  One such company is Bryn Pharma which developed a portable, easy-to-use spray (currently referred to as BRYN-NDS1C). BRYN-NDS1C was granted Fast Track Designation by the FDA and is currently undergoing human trials.  Bryn’s nasal delivery device has already been approved for use in other conditions by the FDA.


Another company, ARS Pharmaceuticals, whose product is called ARS-1, was also given Fast Track Designation to develop intranasal epinephrine.


Studies and trials continue, while questions remain about the efficacy of this delivery system when a patient experiences such factors as nasal/sinus swelling or moderate to severe congestion.


Although final approval by the FDA and ultimate delivery of this medication to customers is still unknown, we should all have high hopes for more and innovative epinephrine options to consider in the future.


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Food Allergy Podcast: Positive Parenting June 29, 2016

Filed under: Health,Technology — malawer @ 8:30 am

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Lyndsay Edwards of the Allergy Blog Awards UK and recording a podcast about food allergies.


As a fellow food allergy parent, Lyndsay herself is an award-winning blogger for Living with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy and writes weekly for The Children’s Allergy Foundation.  Through Allergy Blog Awards UK, Lyndsay is adept at gathering useful information and recording her interviews in the form of a podcast. Her podcasts are downloadable, fun to listen to and easy to digest.


My podcast focuses on a topic near and dear to my heart: how to parent positively in the face of food allergies.  Food allergies are nerve wracking.  Parents have to put in extra effort to avoid transferring their anxieties to their children.  And, parents of food allergic children must focus on empowering their kids in a unique way.


Listen to the podcast here:

Allergy Shmallergy Living Positively with Food Allergies

4. Erin Malawer - Allergy SHMAllergy Living Positively With Food Allergies


Food Allergy Advancements: DBV Technologies’ Viaskin Patch June 27, 2016

Filed under: Health,Technology — malawer @ 10:37 am

1599,Viaskin-tenu-doigtsUntil recently, there was no “treatment” for those with food allergies.  We may now be on the cusp of a big breakthrough for patients with peanut and milk allergies.


I’ve been following all the latest buzz about Viaskin, a peanut patch developed by biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies.  This patch aims to desensitize patients allergic to peanuts through their skin, so that the risk and reaction associated with accidental ingestion may be reduced.


DBV is also partnering with Nestlé Health Science in developing on a non-invasive, ready-to-use patch-test tool to diagnose milk protein allergy called MAG1C.  Between 5 and 15% of infants worldwide have a milk allergy.  But because their symptoms can sometimes be non-specific, this allergy is often difficult to diagnose.  Missed diagnoses can lead to nutritional imbalance, infant distress, and in some cases to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

To learn more about DBV’s innovative approach and more about Viaskin specifically, I interviewed Susanna Mesa, Senior Vice President of Strategy for DBV Technologies.


1) How did DBV decide to pursue a treatment for food allergies?


Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou, Chairman and CEO of DBV Technologies, was a pediatric gastroenterologist, and in his daily practice, he often worked with patients suffering from food allergies. As there are no approved treatments for food allergies, it was clear there was a large, unmet medical need that was not being addressed. While some traditional immunotherapy routes had been explored in the academic setting, the severe side effects associated with these other methods limited drug development in the past. Pierre-Henri envisioned developing a treatment for food allergies that was safe and efficacious, but also, that was patient-friendly and convenient. This is how the Viaskin patch was developed, with patients in mind.


2) What can you tell readers about the treatment itself, how does it work, what is it, etc.?


Viaskin is not currently approved by the regulatory agencies, and the treatment is being tested in multiple clinical trials in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The most advanced product candidate is Viaskin Peanut, which is currently being investigated in a Phase III trial in children ages 4-11 years.


Viaskin bridges cutting-edge technology with a scientific breakthrough. The Viaskin patch is based on Epicutaneous Immunotherapy, or EPIT, DBV’s novel immunotherapy method, which aims to desensitize food allergic patients by leveraging the skin’s immune characteristics. EPIT targets the upper layer of skin where there is a concentration of antigen presenting cells that activate the immune system without allowing passage of the allergen into the bloodstream. In clinical trials, we have observed that the absence of allergen in bloodstream allows Viaskin to desensitize patients without causing any serious adverse events.


Today, Viaskin is being investigated in clinical trials for peanut and milk allergies, and preclinical work for egg allergy is ongoing.

3) Do you expect to expand your technology to treat other common food allergens such as tree nuts, shellfish, soy, etc.? Is DBV tailoring their success to help food allergy patients in different countries (i.e., peanuts are some of the most dangerous in the US, but sesame is more common in Israel and buckwheat in Japan, etc.)?


Our mission is to offer a novel, efficacious and patient-friendly therapy to all food allergies patients. Our technology platform allows us to target many food allergies, but we try to prioritize our development by assessing which areas have the highest unmet medical need, which is why we are aiming to address peanut allergies first. However, milk allergy, for example, while it is very common in U.S. pediatric patients, is also very common in Asia and other countries. We are a global company, with headquarters in the U.S. and France, and we hope that in the future we will continue to increase our reach and presence in other countries as well.

4) How long is the average treatment period?

At this stage because we are still investigational product, we believe the duration of treatment will be based on each individual patient’s needs.

5) What is the goal for the average patient? Is it tolerance to a certain level of their allergen or are they considered to be no longer allergic?

In our ongoing clinical trials, we are evaluating patients’ desensitization over time, but our ultimate goal is to derisk patients from the life-threating reactions that put them in jeopardy —we want to get them to a level of desensitization where they will be protected from the risk associated with accidental exposure to peanut protein.

6) What is required of the average patient following treatment with a Viaskin patch? Is there any medication or maintenance involved?


As of today, there is no approved medication or maintenance to treat food allergies. We believe maintenance regimes will be tailored to each patient specifically by his or her physician.

7) What is the status of the three Viaskin patches? Are they available to food allergic patients?


The Viaskin treatment is still in the pre-approval phase, and as such is not yet available for patients. Our Viaskin Peanut patch is the most advanced and a Phase III trial is being conducted for this treatment for patients ages 4 to 11. Viaskin Milk is currently undergoing a Phase II trial, and we are still in the pre-clinical stage with our treatment for hen’s egg allergies.

8) Who is a candidate for Viaskin Peanut? Are there any age or other exclusions from effective treatment?


The treatment is not currently approved.


9) What is the benefit of using the Viaskin patch over oral immunotherapy?


There is currently no approved treatment for food allergies, and because of that, there haven’t been any comparative studies. But, what we want to offer patients is a convenient, safe, effective treatment, and we believe that there is a unique value in that focus that it is not currently available with other methods of immunotherapy.

10) How can someone get more information regarding using the Viaskin Patch for treatment? Where can they find doctors/clinics using this innovative technology?


As Viaskin is still in the pre-approval phase, the patch is not yet available for use. With respect to any ongoing and future clinical trials, trial centers that are actively enrolling patients are listed on where information on the various participating centers is available, as well as on the DBV website.




Autism Awareness Month – Help Support a Good Cause April 2, 2015

Filed under: Technology — malawer @ 2:38 pm
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As you may already know, food allergies are prevalent in the autistic community.  In addition to the food allergy responses we are most familiar with, certain foods have been reported to provoke a behavioral reaction.  As Kelly Barnhill, Director of Clinical Care at the Johnson Center for Child Health & Development, in Austin, Texas (speaking on the Autism Speaks website) points out, “Clearly such symptoms [such as hives, GI responses, anaphylaxis] can cause a bad day for anyone. This can be particularly true of a child or adult living with autism – who may not be able to communicate or fully understand or explain his or her discomfort.”

Today is International Autism Awareness Day and the entire month of April is Autism awareness month.  So, you may see people going blue today in support of Autism research and hear of autism awareness walks.  And you can lend a hand, too!  Download ContentChecked’s app today.  ContentChecked helps those with food allergies find grocery products that are safe for their specific allergies.  For each download (free or paid) during the month of April, ContentChecked with donate $1 to Autism Speaks, the world’s leading organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.

For more information about ContentChecked, check them out online or read my post, “Look Who’s Blogging at ContentChecked…”


Look Who’s Blogging at ContentChecked… March 9, 2015

Follow the link for the answer….  ContentChecked Blog: “Stunned to Silence”.

ContentChecked in an innovative app for people living with food allergies.  And, as you can see, they also have a blog filled with interesting information.  I’m thrilled to be partnering with them as they grow and help simplify life for people not just with food allergies, but for those (like me) living with migraines as well.

Writing about my first emotions following my son’s food allergy diagnosis brought me right back to those early days that were filled with questions and uncertainly.  I’m sure many of you felt similar senses of worry, inexperience, anxiety…  Look how far we’ve come, baby!

Take a moment today to appreciate how well you’re handling your family food allergy situation.  And if you know someone who has just received a food allergy diagnosis, send them here and to ContentChecked (“Steps to Success”) to get them started on a good path towards managing food allergies.


Safe Travels! Apps for Food Allergies July 5, 2014

Summer is a great time to hit the road (or the sky!). But travel can pose some issues for those with food allergies.  New restaurants, meals on the go… they can be hard to sort out safely.  Here are a few apps to play with over the summer that might just help out:  


Restaurant Nutrition:

While developed as a way to check for nutritional information of restaurant chains, it also includes ingredient lists whenever possible… Making that last minute rest stop a lot easier to navigate.  Available (free) for iPhone and Android platforms.    



So, you’ve spent all day at the beach or on a hike and your gang is exhausted.  Sounds like you’re eating at the rental house tonight!  Do you need a dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free dessert?  Try checking out Yummly.  What I love about this site is that you can search for recipes WITHOUT certain ingredients.  Who doesn’t want to make this amazing recipe?!

Mini Peach Pies

Mini Peach Pies via

Allergy FT:

Traveling abroad with a food allergy can be tricky?  You will want to make absolutely sure that your waiter and chef know you know a food allergy.  Allergy FT translates your food allergy from English into Spanish, French or German allowing you to communicate in roughly 57 countries!  Best of all, no internet connection is involved so no soaring internet rates!



Emergency Apps:

  • The American Red Cross app may be useful for any number of reasons.  But for us, it’s symptoms and advice on anaphylaxis is particularly helpful.   
  • FindER will use your phone’s GPS to locate the closest ER to wherever you are.  While I hope none of us ever has to use this, it’s good to know it’s available.


I’d love to hear of any other apps people are using and finding helpful!  And, of course, safe travels wherever your plans may take you!


ScanAvert Allergy App August 9, 2011

My sister-in-law read about a clever new app called ScanAvert ($1.99 per month) which aims at helping people read ingredient lists.  We’d begin by entering in my son’s food allergies.  By scanning the barcode of a grocery item, ScanAlert warns you if the item contains a particular allergen.  This app also offers substitutes, allergy recall information, pharmacy, and GF information in addition to listing ingredients.  By its own description, ScanAvert could be useful not only for the FA, but also for the diet and nutrition conscience, and individuals who diabetic, pregnant, or otherwise following a restricted diet.


I may give this a try as a back-up system.  It’s easy to miss one ingredient in a list written in fine print.  However, it feels funny to try a barcode scan to tell me if something is safe for my child.  But, maybe that’s because he’s severely allergic to several allergens and not merely sensitive.  I would definitely rely on this if I were using it for nutrition and other non-life threatening situations.


Has anyone ever used this app?  Would you?




Helpful Smartphone Apps I Hope You Never Have to Use January 27, 2011

I just read about a few new smartphone apps that are worth it for every parent to download.  Those of us with food allergic children simply have an extra reason.

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The first is iTriage.  Performing on the Android and iPhone platforms, iTriage houses a comprehensive list of emergency rooms, hospitals and urgent care facilities – listing their distance from your current location, their address, phone numbers, directions, ratings and wait times.  Because it pulls them up based on your location – wherever that may be, this app is essential when you travel.  iTriage also helps users make informed health decisions offering information about symptoms, medical procedures, and even helps you locate a doctor.  This app is user-friendly and has a voice-input option to get you the information quickly.

iTriage Home Menu


Operating for iPhone only is the findER app.  Like iTriage, findER uses the phone’s GPS to search for and list the nearest emergency rooms and/or emergency departments (displayed either in map or list format).  With one-click, a user can obtain directions and with another click will be directed to the web to obtain more information about the medical facility.

findER Home Menu

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I hope no one ever has to use these apps.  But if you do, you’ll be glad you had them handy!

Pass it on!


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