FDA panel OKs drug for anthrax

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Saturday, July 29, 2000

FDA panel OKs drug for anthrax


ROCKVILLE, Md. - An advisory committee yesterday recommended approval of an antibiotic to treat people exposed to inhaled anthrax, an action designed to help prepare the nation for a possible biological terrorist attack.

The Food and Drug Administration committee voted unanimously to recommend that FDA select ciprofloxacin as the first antibiotic formally approved for treating people who may have inhaled spores of anthrax.

Ciprofloxacin has been marketed for 13 years by Bayer Corp. of West Haven, Conn., under the brand name Cipro. The drug already is approved for a wide variety of infections and has been used by about 250 million patients worldwide. But currently, no drug is formally approved for preventing infection in people exposed to inhaled anthrax.

Committee chairman Dr. L. Barth Reller of Duke University said the unanimous vote of the committee "is clearly linked" to the unusual circumstances of preparing for a possible terrorist attack.

The FDA is not required to follow the committee recommendation, but insiders consider its approval almost certain. The FDA had requested that Bayer apply for the formal approval, and some federal agencies already had recommended Cipro as the prophylactic drug of choice for people exposed to inhaled anthrax.

To be effective, experts said, Cipro would have to be taken by exposed patients before symptoms appear. Little can be done once the fever, chills, rash and respiratory congestion start, researchers said. This means that once it is known there has been a release of anthrax spores, people will, within hours, have to take an antibiotic, the experts said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 30, 2000


This sounds great on the surface, but if there was an anthrax attack where would a person get the CIPRO? Is this going to be stored at the local fire station? How long before it is realized that an anthrax attack has been launched? Do you make enough for entire population?

Questions, Questions, Questions.

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 30, 2000.

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