NEWS

US approves powerful Johnson & Johnson antibiotic Levaquin to treat or prevent deadly plague

04/29/2012 06:30 EDT | Updated 06/29/2012 05:12 EDT
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - U.S. 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 the risk of people getting plague after exposure to the bacteria that cause it. Called Yersinia pestis, the bacteria are considered a potential bioterrorism agent.

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 per cent of the monkeys given Levaquin survived.

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