Leaders of a powerful House committee sent a letter to Wyeth last month asking the company to detail why a controversial ingredient in a drug used to treat heartworm in dogs is being tested in humans with river blindness in Africa. Democratic leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce are investigating why moxidectin, the active ingredient in ProHeart 6, is being tested in humans despite the drug having been pulled off the market in 2004 amid reports that 500 dogs died while taking it.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration said a reformulated version of ProHeart 6 could be allowed back in the U.S. to treat heartworm in dogs, though distribution of the product would be restricted. As you may know, heartworm is a parasite that affects millions of dogs. Senator Chuck Grassley had asked the FDA in June why the drug was allowed back in the U.S.
It appears that Wyeth is testing moxidectin in people infected with a parasite that causes river blindness, a major cause of blindness in West Africa. Wyeth says about a decade ago the World Health Organization approached the company to see whether moxidectin could help kill the worms that transmit river blindness between people. According to reports, the trials are being conducted in collaboration with the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, which is sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, and the WHO. Wyeth says the safety profile of the drug has “continued to be positive,” since it went on the market in June.
Source: Dow Jones Newswires
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