ANTHRAX: U.S. Government Seeks Approval for Cipro
Urged by the CDC, FDA and Department of Defense, Bayer Pharmaceuticals is seeking FDA approval to use Cipro, its top-selling antibiotic, against the anthrax bacteria, USA Today reports. The CDC wants to include Cipro, the trade name for ciprofloxacin, in its National Pharmaceutical Stockpile program, to ensure that drugs and other medical supplies can be shipped quickly to the site of any biological or chemical terrorism attack in the United States, according to CDC spokesperson Barbara Reynolds. Anthrax can be effectively treated with antibiotics, and has therefore been given high priority by the CDC's stockpile program. But military and other government health care providers, unlike private-sector doctors, are prohibited from using any drug "off label," or for a non-approved use and therefore will need FDA approval for this use of Cipro. In a May 1999 consensus statement published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Working Group on Civilian Biodefense noted that animal studies suggested that Cipro would be "highly effective" against anthrax, and that no Cipro-resistant anthrax strains had been reported, unlike penicillin and doxycycline, two other antibiotics approved to treat anthrax. The Department of Defense halted its anthrax vaccination effort for all military personnel last week when the efficacy of the vaccine was contested. Now, only soldiers scheduled to be in the Persian Gulf or Korea for over 30 days will receive the vaccine, according to Department of Defense spokesperson Jim Turner. Cipro, Turner says, could "fill the gap" for those not vaccinated. An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to discuss Cipro's new use on July 28 (Rubin, 7/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.