The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it has approved a new Johnson & Johnson treatment for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. This is the first new medicine to treat the disease in 40 years.
Johnson & Johnson said Monday that the medicine will be used to treat patients who have not responded to other tuberculosis-fighting treatments, Reuters reports.
The drug, which is named Sirturo, will be the first aimed at treating the drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, The NY Times reports.
While multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is rare in the United States, it is a serious health threat and growing issue in the world's poorest countries.
In 2011, nearly 9 million people around the world became sick with tuberculosis, and there were 1.4 million TB-related deaths, Reuters reports. The disease requires six to nine months of treatment.
The FDA said Monday that Sirturo will not be used alone, but in addition to other drugs to fight hard-to-treat TB, The Associated Press reports.
There is a warning on the box saying the drug can cause heart problems and may even lead to "fatal heart rhythms."
Sirturo, however, does not come without serious risks. The FDA warned that Sirturo may potentially cause heart attacks heart problems and "should be prescribed carefully by doctors."
People with this strain of tuberculosis must be treated for 18 to 24 months, The New York Times reports.
The FDA approved this new treatment because it was satisfied with the results of two studies measuring how long it took patients to be cured of TB, The Associated Press reports.
The first trial showed most patients taking Sirturo in addition to older drugs used to treat the disease were cured after 83 days. It took 125 days for patients taking a placebo in addition to other drugs. The second study showed most patients taking Sirturo were cured after 57 days.