First Drug Approved to Treat Weaponized Smallpox

The FDA approved the drug but US officials say there's no immediate threat of bioterrorism
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2018 6:30 PM CDT
Capsules of the drug TPOXX for smallpox.   (SIGA via AP)

(Newser) – The FDA has approved a drug that could be used in the event that someone turns the deadly smallpox virus into a weapon. Per USA Today, the anti-viral tecovirimat, or TPOXX, from the pharmaceutical maker SIGA Technologies, has been given the go-ahead by the regulator to become "an additional option should smallpox ever be used as a bioweapon." The AP reports that the US government partially paid for the development of the drug, which will now be stockpiled. The drug was found to be effective against smallpox in animals infected with the virus and was found safe for use in human test subjects, who were not infected. The CDC was quick to assure the public that, despite the new drug to fight it, there is no immediate threat of the virus being used to intentionally kill.

"Today's action reflects the FDA's commitment to ensuring that the US is prepared for any public health emergency with timely, safe, and effective medical products," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, head of the Food and Drug Administration, said in a statement. Smallpox is estimated to have killed some 300 million people in the 20th century. While it was eradicated by a massive vaccination effort that was deemed successful worldwide in 1980, no drug has previously been developed to fight the disease in those already infected. (Read more smallpox stories.)

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