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FDA clears tuberculosis drug

Johnson & Johnson won accelerated U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its tuberculosis tablet Sirturo, the first medicine in 40 years that provides a new way to treat the contagious lung infection.

The FDA cleared Sirturo to be added to existing therapies for use by adults whose illness is resistant to multiple drugs, New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J said yesterday in a statement.

There were 8.7 million new cases worldwide of tuberculosis in 2011, with multidrug-resistant forms accounting for as many as 400,000 cases, according to a World Health Organization report. The international charity Doctors Without Borders called approval of Sirturo "an immense milestone," and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the drug adds a new weapon "to the arsenal for fighting this deadly, contagious disease." -- Bloomberg News

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