Nestlé isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of Big Pharma. And considering how their rollout of a new allergy drug is going, it’ll probably stay that way.
What happened: Nestlé is “exploring strategic options for” (read: planning to sell) Palforzia, the world’s only approved peanut allergy drug, after sales fell short of its expectations.
- The FDA-approved drug does not cure peanut allergies but lessens the frequency and severity of reactions by helping patients build up a tolerance to minor exposures.
Catch up: Nestlé bought the maker of the drug for US$2.6 billion in 2020, because what parent wouldn’t leap at the chance to ensure their kid couldn’t get taken down by a rogue Snickers bar?
Why it matters: A 2019 study found that peanuts caused 39% of all anaphylaxis cases in Canada and the US that sent children to the ICU—far and away the leading cause.
- In Canada, roughly 3.2% of children suffer from peanut allergies, but Nestlé has focused on targeting the US and European markets rather than Canada.
Bottom line: Potentially life-saving drugs also need to make good business sense. Palfrozia’s laborious treatment process (and drag on Nestlé's bottom line) could rule it out as an option for Canadians before Health Canada even gets the chance to approve it.