FDA approves drug to treat and prevent the Plague as the government scrambles to stockpile treatment for the deadly disease


By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 22:29 EST, 29 April 2012 | UPDATED: 23:19 EST, 29 April 2012

US regulators have approved use of a powerful Johnson & Johnson antibiotic to treat plague, an extremely rare, sometimes-deadly bacterial infection.

The Food and Drug Administration also approved Levaquin, known generically as levofloxacin, to reduce risk of people getting plague after exposure to the bacteria that cause it.

Called Yersinia pestis, the bacteria are considered a potential bioterrorism agent.

Rare but deadlyRare but deadly: There are less than 2,000 cases of the plague reported worldwide every year, but the government sought a new treatment in case it is used for terrorism

LevaquinApproved: Levaquin is a powerful antibiotic that was developed to treat respiratory infections

Because of the potential for the plague to be used in a biological weapon, the government approached Johnson & Johnson and asked that the company pursue federal approval, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

The case was especially rare because it never underwent a clinical trial of human plague patients. Instead, it was tested on African green monkeys.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases worked with Johnson & Johnson to study whether Levaquin could treat the plague.

The drug had been approved to fight off severe upper respiratory infections and Anthrax.

However, federal officials wanted FDA approval for the plague so they could begin administering it in case of an outbreak, the newspaper reports.

It is already a part of the federal drugs and vaccines stockpile.

Plague mainly occurs in animals. People can get it from bites from infected fleas or contact with infected animals or humans. About 1,000 to 2,000 human cases occur worldwide each year.

The FDA approved Levaquin for plague after tests on African green monkeys infected with the bacteria in a lab found 94 percent of the monkeys given Levaquin survived.

Michel SerreThis painting by Michel Serre depicts the plague in Marseilles in 1721. In the 14th century, the plague killed up to 200 million people

A variation of the plague was responsible the Black Death, which wiped out up to 200 million people in Europe and parts of Asia.

Experts say it wiped out as much as one quarter of the world’s population and 30 to 60 percent of Europeans.

The disease was carried and spread by rats aboard ships.



Posted on April 30, 2012, in Health / Medicine, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: