- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
- Oh my God! Costco lists Bible as fiction, Ron Burgundy memoir as gospel
FDA approves 1st new tuberculosis drug in 40 years
WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a Johnson & Johnson tuberculosis drug that is the first new medicine to fight the deadly infection in more than four decades.
The agency approved J&J’s pill, Sirturo, for use with older drugs to fight a hard-to-treat strain of tuberculosis that has not responded to other medications. However, the agency cautioned that the drug carries risks of potentially deadly heart problems and should be prescribed carefully by doctors.
Roughly one-third of the world’s population is estimated to be infected with the bacteria causing tuberculosis. The disease is rare in the U.S., but kills about 1.4 million people a year worldwide. Of those, about 150,000 succumb to the increasingly common drug-resistant forms of the disease. About 60 percent of all cases are concentrated in China, India, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Sirturo, known chemically as bedaquiline, is the first medicine specifically designed for treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. That’s a form of the disease that cannot be treated with at least two of the four primary antibiotics used for tuberculosis.
The standard drugs used to fight the disease were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.
“The antibiotics used to treat it have been around for at least 40 years and so the bacterium has become more and more resistant to what we have,” said Chrispin Kambili, global medical affairs leader for J&J’s Janssen division.
The drug carries a boxed warning indicating that it can interfere with the heart’s electrical activity, potentially leading to fatal heart rhythms.
“Sirturo provides much-needed treatment for patients who have don’t have other therapeutic options available,” said Edward Cox, director of the FDA’s antibacterial drugs office. “However, because the drug also carries some significant risks, doctors should make sure they use it appropriately and only in patients who don’t have other treatment options.”
Nine patients taking Sirturo died in company testing compared with two patients taking a placebo. Five of the deaths in the Sirturo group seemed to be related to tuberculosis, but no explanation was apparent for the remaining four.
Despite the deaths, the FDA approved the drug under its accelerated approval program, which allows the agency to clear innovative drugs based on promising preliminary results.
Last week, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen criticized that approach, noting the drug’s outstanding safety issues.
“The fact that bedaquiline is part of a new class of drug means that an increased level of scrutiny should be required for its approval,” the group states. “But the FDA had not yet answered concerns related to unexplained increases in toxicity and death in patients getting the drug.”
The FDA said it approved the drug based on two mid-stage studies enrolling 440 patients taking Sirturo. Both studies were designed to measure how long it takes patients to be free of tuberculosis.
Results from the first trial showed most patients taking Sirturo plus older drugs were cured after 83 days, compared with 125 days for those taking a placebo plus older drugs. The second study showed most Sirturo patients were cured after 57 days.
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- President Obama acknowledges living with illegal immigrant uncle: report
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
White House pets gone wild!