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Food, penicillin allergies have remarkable treatments available

May 10, 2024 - Your Health Matters

An estimated 32 million people in the U.S. suffer from food allergies.

But a new treatment that received FDA approval in February has a physician with Meritus Allergy & Asthma Specialists particularly excited.

“This is a huge moment for those dealing with food allergies,” said Dr. Seemal Awan, M.D. “A food allergy can be life-threatening.”

The drug, Xolair, increases the threshold for the amount of an allergen that would trigger a reaction, Dr. Awan said.

For example, if a child has a low threshold for peanuts, the tiniest piece of a peanut butter cookie could cause everything from a huge rash to anaphylaxis, she said.

Xolair raises that threshold so now “you would have to have a significant serving of that food to have a reaction.”

Studies found that almost 70 percent of people who had multiple food allergies were able to consume the equivalent of about four peanuts before seeing a reaction. For 44 percent of those tested, that number was about 25 peanuts.

“It’s not a small amount,” Dr. Awan said. “We’re really excited about this. It’s a great step forward in food allergies.”

The treatment is available at Meritus Allergy & Asthma Specialists. But that’s not the only remarkable treatment available there.

What is the penicillin clinic?

Dr. Awan is also behind a clinic that can help clear the reaction for a majority of people diagnosed as allergic to penicillin.

“Roughly 90 percent of people diagnosed with a penicillin allergy will grow out of it in their lifetime,” Dr. Away said. “And a lot of people are misdiagnosed.”

Penicillin is the base of many antibiotics, used to eradicate infections. By clearing people of their allergies, it allows a wider variety of treatments should they need it.

“It’s one of my personal favorite things to do,” Dr. Awan said of the clinic. “It’s huge. And it’s straightforward.”

A skin test is administered first, and if that comes back negative, an oral penicillin treatment is given. Typically, this is done over two days, but Dr. Awan said it can be done in the same day, provided the patient has time to wait for the results of the skin test.

Since starting the clinic last year, Dr. Awan estimates more than 100 people have gone through the testing and treatment. And rather than set a specific time or day, patients are able to request the test and treatment during normal business hours.

To learn more about the penicillin clinic or Xolair, visit, or call 301-790-1482.

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Seemal Awan, M.D.

Meritus Allergy & Asthma Specialists

Allergy & Asthma