New Drug Could Reduce Severity

Of Allergic Reactions to Peanuts

Researchers have developed the first drug that can protect the 1.5 million Americans who suffer allergic reactions to peanuts, the leading cause of all allergy deaths.

The monthly shots do not cure the allergy, but doctors believe the experimental drug should prevent severe complications if people unknowingly eat one or two peanuts, the typical accidental exposure.

In a study of 84 patients who had immediate allergic reactions to peanuts, the drug, TNX-901, protected people even from the tiny amounts of peanuts that can be present in the air. In addition, several participants reported that other food allergies were lessened, and hay fever symptoms disappeared.

"Basically, we would not be seeing people in the emergency room or the morgue from peanut accidents," said S. Allan Bock, an allergist from Boulder, Colo., who was not part of the study.

However, the drug is a few years away from going on the market, its critical third round of tests stalled by legal infighting among the three companies with rights to it.

Peanut allergies, which account for 50 to 100 deaths in the United States each year, have been rising in recent decades.

No one is sure why, but a new study found that baby creams or lotions containing peanut oil may lead to peanut allergies.

Babies whose rashes or eczema were soothed by such creams were more likely to become allergic to peanuts than those whose creams did not include peanut oil, said Gideon Lack of St. Mary's Hospital at Imperial College in London.

Lack's study, like the research on TNX-901, was presented yesterday in Denver to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. They will be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Blacks With High Blood Pressure

May Need Treatment With Two Drugs

Most black people with high blood pressure need aggressive treatment, including at least two drugs, to effectively control hypertension, say new guidelines published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The recommendations are billed as the first high blood pressure guidelines specifically for black people, who are disproportionately affected by hypertension and related complications, such as diabetes and kidney disease. They were developed by the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks and endorsed by several medical groups, including the American Heart Association's Council on High Blood Pressure Research.

Doctors generally recommend that otherwise healthy patients keep their blood pressure under 140 over 90. This can often be achieved through diet and exercise.

The new guidelines say that black people with diabetes, heart disease or mild kidney disease should strive for a reading lower than 130 over 80.

Two medications should be used when hypertension significantly exceeds those targets, the guidelines say. That means at least 15 points above the desired top reading and 10 points higher than the bottom reading.

The recommended drug combinations include diuretics with beta blockers or ACE inhibitors.

-- From News Services