FDA approves antibacterial treatment for plague

Antibacterial treatment for plague approved by FDA
Antibacterial treatment for plague approved by FDA | Courtesy of

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Avelox (moxifloxacin), an additional antibacterial treatment for the plague, which is a rare but possibly fatal infection from bacteria known as Yersinia pestis.

The approval for the treatment allows health professionals to use Avelox to treat pneumonic plague -- an infection in the lungs -- and septicemic plague -- an infection in the blood.

The FDA approved Avelox using its Animal Efficacy Rule, which states that treatments showing positive results in adequate and well-controlled animal studies that cannot involve humans for ethical or feasible reasons can be used to treat illnesses. The plague is such a rare disease that it is impossible to adequately study the effectiveness of Avelox in humans.

The plague typically spreads through bites from fleas infected with the plague, laboratory exposure or direct contact with humans or animals that have the plague. In the majority of the world, including the U.S., the plague is rare. There are approximately 1,000 to 2,000 cases globally each year in three common forms: pneumonic plague, septicemic plague, and bubonic plague -- an infection in the lymph nodes.

“Today’s approval provides an additional therapy for the treatment of plague,” Edward Cox, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said.

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