FARE Paves the Way for National Consensus Study on Food Allergy

BakerJamesSmallFARE is leading worldwide efforts to answer key questions about food allergy as a significant public health issue. In May 2015, FARE announced a new consensus study by the Institute of Medicine titled “Food Allergies: Global Burden, Causes, Treatment, Prevention and Public Policy.” FARE is the lead sponsor of the study -- initiating, organizing and helping to secure funding for this important work.

In this blog post, FARE CEO James R. Baker, Jr., MD, shares his insights about FARE’s role in the study, as well as its background and significance.

What was the genesis of the consensus study?

As the leading advocacy organization representing the 15 million Americans with food allergies and the largest private funder of food allergy research, FARE seeks out opportunities to support life-changing and life-saving research.

More than two years ago, FARE began working with the Institute of Medicine to design a consensus study on food allergy. As the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine is the appropriate entity to conduct this consensus study because it is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision-makers and the public. Its consensus reports on critical public health issues have a direct impact on shaping national public policy.

FARE worked through the Institute of Medicine’s rigorous process for initiating such studies and co-authored the white paper that became the foundation for the final scope of the consensus study. Over the course of the past two years, FARE has worked closely with the Institute of Medicine to identify and secure other sponsors for the consensus study in order to build a diverse base of support and funding.

Representatives from the Institute of Medicine also attended FARE’s Research Retreat in April in an effort to jumpstart their knowledge and understanding of the state of food allergy research. This retreat was attended by more than 70 of the leading scientists and pharmaceutical companies in drug development from around the world.

What will the study examine?

The study will look at critical issues such as food allergy prevalence, the impact of food allergy on families and communities, and the understanding of food allergy as a disease and in diagnostics, treatment, prevention and public policy. This work will help to elevate food allergy in the public health consciousness and, importantly, the recommendations formed as a result of the study will help shape policy at a national level.

Among the key questions being considered by the consensus study committee:

  • Why are food allergies more common today than in the past? What are the implications of current trends in prevalence?
  • What are the key prenatal/early life determinants of food allergy?
  • Why are some individuals allergic to a single allergen while others to multiple allergens?
  • Are there ways to improve diagnosis?
  • What research gaps need to be filled in order to provide better guidance to healthcare providers and policy-makers?

What is FARE’s role in the consensus study?

As the lead sponsor, FARE made a major investment in the study and has worked throughout the last two years to secure additional funding for this work. FARE also had the opportunity to nominate representatives to the expert committee and patient advisory panel. The study’s sponsors are as follows:

  • FARE
  • National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – Food and Nutrition Service
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • National Dairy Council
  • Egg Nutrition Center
  • National Peanut Board
  • International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation
  • National Fisheries Institute
  • International Life Sciences Institute North America
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

What are the next steps?

The first committee meeting was held in Washington, DC on June 22, 2015, during which all sponsors were invited to talk about their perspectives during brief presentations. The study committee will meet again in late August and will continue their work over the next year and a half. Expert panel deliberations are closed, but as a sponsor, FARE is able to participate in open sessions.

Additionally, representatives from the Institute of Medicine will be speaking at the International Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Alliance meeting, hosted by FARE. This annual meeting, which will be held in September, will convene patient advocacy organizations from more than 20 countries.

The consensus study is expected to take approximately 16 months to complete. For more information, please visit the Institute of Medicine website.

FARE will provide periodic updates on our website as the work progresses.