Any parent of a child can tell you: there’s nothing more frightening than an allergy attack.
One in 10 Americans live with a food allergy. Peanut allergies are not only one of the most common food allergies, but it’s also one of the most severe. Even the slightest trace of peanut residue can trigger in some patients anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening allergic reaction in which your immune system sends your body into shock.
Food allergies also have devastating social costs, as patients struggle every day in fear that an unidentified threat at a restaurant or friend’s dinner table could trigger an attack.
“My food allergy caused isolation, depression, and anxiety for myself and everyone close to me,” shares 16-year-old Tessa Grosso, a patient advocate living with a food allergy.
Right now, the only way to manage most food allergies is to avoid the food that causes a reaction. Drugs, such as epinephrine, what we commonly known as the epi-pen, don’t prevent an allergic reaction, but provide lifesaving aid to combat anaphylaxis.
Tessa’s life with a food allergy changed when she gained access to a new oral immunotherapy. In fact, new treatment innovations for peanut allergy are providing new options to patients. Two new treatment innovations, AR101 and Viaskin Peanut, work differently by building a patient’s immune tolerance to peanuts.
“I am 16 and one of the first to go through OIT,” Tessa shared of her experience with one of the new treatments. “It has been the most important, valuable, empowering experience in my life.”
That new treatment could be taken away from Tessa and other patients living with food and peanut allergies to boost the profits of health insurance companies.
ICER: New Treatments Bad for Insurance Costs
Citing its impact on “health care insurance costs,” the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review has issued its dreaded insurance profitability “alert” for two new treatments for peanut allergies. ICER’s report encourages insurance companies to deny coverage and impose substantial barriers for patients seeking access to the treatments.
“ICER is issuing an access and affordability alert for both AR101 and Viaskin Peanut,” ICER states in its final evidence report on peanut allergy treatments. “The purpose of an ICER affordability and access alert is to signal stakeholders and policy makers that the amount of added health care costs associated with a new service may be difficult for the health care system to absorb over the short term without displacing other needed services or contributing to that threaten sustainable access to high-value care for all patients.”
Patient Advocates Criticize ICER’s Report on Peanut Allergies
Allergy experts and patient advocates, including the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, strongly criticize ICER’s report on the clinical effectiveness and value of treatments for peanut allergy.
“Our community needs choices,” said Lisa Gable, CEO of the Food Allergy Research and Education. “New and innovative therapies, like those that have just undergone this rigorous ICER review, are important potential therapeutic options for the growing number of food allergic patients that currently have no other options.”
She adds, “Avoidance, epinephrine and emergency room visits can no longer be the norm for the more than 32 million Americans living with food allergies today.”
As the oldest and largest non-profit patient organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease for people with asthma and allergies, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is concerned that ICER’s latest report will blunt new research into treatment innovations.
“ICER’s review of these therapies was too early in the process,” said Kenneth Mendez, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Safety and long-term efficacy concerns should be addressed through the FDA review process. If promising treatments are approved by the FDA, then as with any treatment, patients and their health care providers should decide which treatment is appropriate.”