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FDA Approves Johnson & Johnson Drug for Tuberculosis

Cristina Arias/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its stamp of approval to Johnson & Johnson's drug, called Sirturo, that will treat a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

This form of tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a bacterial infection, resistant to multiple drugs, and can be fatal. It affects as many as 630,000 people globally, although it is not as common in the U.S., according to Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman at Johnson & Johnson.  

Though less than 100 cases of MDR-TB have been reported in the U.S., Stoffels says the FDA's approval of Sirturo, also called bedaquiline, "is a significant step" in fighting the global disease.  In fact, the company does not expect the drug to be a large driver of revenue.  Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Pamela Van Houten said that "commercial opportunity is very limited," according to a Wall Street Journal report.

"This is part of our commitment to advance innovative medicines that help address serious public-health issues," Van Houten said.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Johnson & Johnson expects to begin selling Sirturo in the second quarter of 2013. The company will hold off on announcing the drug's sales price until that time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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