Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Anthim (obiltoxaximab) injection, to be used with specific antibacterial drugs to treat people who have had inhalational anthrax.
Anthim has also been approved for preventing inhalational anthrax if other alternative therapies are unavailable or inappropriate.
Inhalational anthrax, a rare illness, happens when people are exposed to animals or animal products that are either contaminated or infected with the disease. Sometimes people are exposed to the disease when anthrax spores are intentionally released.
When anthrax spores are released, people inhale the bacterium Bacillus anthracis spores. Then the bacteria spreads through the body, generating toxins that cause irreversible and massive tissue injuries that lead to death.
Anthim, a monoclonal antibody, eliminates the toxins that anthrax generates. The FDA has approved Anthim as part of its Animal Rule, enabling researchers to conduct efficiency studies within well-controlled, adequate animal studies. Scientists hope to see Anthim progress to human studies in the near future.
In the past, anthrax has been used as a bioterrorism threat. The spores resist destruction and easily spread through the air, making them a bioweapon of choice.
“As preparedness is a cornerstone of any bioterrorism response, we are pleased to see continued efforts to develop treatments for anthrax,” Edward Cox, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said.