The US Food and Drug Administration issued a string of announcements just before Christmas giving the thumbs-up to several new drugs. Here’s a rundown:
1. New drug to treat high cholesterol. Juxtapid was approved to treat a rare genetic form of high cholesterol. The condition, which occurs in about 3,000 Americans causes super-high cholesterol levels and heart attacks at an early age. The drug injections will cost $200,000 to $300,000 annually, according to the Wall Street Journal, and will require safety precautions because of its liver risks.
2. Tamiflu approved for babies. The anti-viral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir) can now be given to infants as young as 2 weeks old who have shown symptoms of flu — fever, lethargy, coughing, and runny nose — for no longer than two days. Previously, Tamiflu had only been approved for use in children age 1 year and older. Vomiting and diarrhea were the most common side effects reported with the drug.
3. Varizig approved for reducing chicken pox symptoms. While most people are immune to the varicella virus (a.k.a. chicken pox) after getting infected during childhood or receiving the vaccine, this new drug can help reduce symptoms in those who do get the potentially life-threatening virus. It needs to be given within four days of exposure, according to the FDA.