FDA okays new treatment for plague
Washington, D.C., United States (AHN) – The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of a powerful antibiotic from drug giant Johnson & Johnson to treat the plague, an exceptionally rare and sometimes deadly bacterial infection.
The approval also allows the drug, Levaquin, known generically as levofloxacin, to be used to reduce the risk of people contracting plague after being exposed to the bacteria that cause it. The bacteria, called Yersinia pestsi, is considered a potential bioterrorism agent.
Plague mainly occurs in animals. Bites from infected fleas or contact with infected animals or humans can spread the disease to people. Roughly 1,000 to 2,000 human cases occur worldwide each year.
Plague is estimated to have killed between 30 percent to 60 percent of the population of Europe when it spread throughout the Continent in the 1300s.
Levaquin got the FDA nod for plague after tests on African green monkeys infected with the bacteria in a lab found 94 percent of the monkeys given Levaquin survived.
Just after the opening bell on Wall Street, shares of Johnson & Johnson were little changed at $64.84.