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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Anthrax Antibiotics

Advanced Development and Procurement

In the event of an anthrax attack, antibiotics are the first line of defense for infected individuals.  Anthrax and other bacteria can become weaponized or evolve and become resistant to antibiotics. BARDA is working to through public-private partnerships to develop effective antibiotics to treat anthrax infections in the event of an emergency.

Current Programs

BARDA is supporting the following antibiotics:

  • XERAVA: XERAVA, a novel, fully synthetic tetracycline antibiotic, has been approved by the FDA to treat complicated intra-abdominal infections and serious Gram negative infections, including infections caused by multi-drug resistant pathogens that CDC and WHO consider to be urgent public health threats. BARDA is supporting the studies necessary for FDA to consider granting approval to use XERAVA under an Emergency Use Authorization to treat anthrax or tularemia.
  • ZEMDRI:  ZEMDRI, a member of a class of antibiotics engineered to overcome the drug resistant mechanisms that cause other members of this class of drugs to fail, has been approved by the FDA to treat complicated urinary tract infections.  With BARDA’s support, the company also conducted studies that could make the drug available under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization to treat the effects of biothreats like plague, tularemia, or anthrax, as well as public health threats like Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacea (CRE).
  • Gepotidacin: Gepotidacin is the first in a new class of antibiotics that is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of gonorrhea and uncomplicated urinary tract infections. Gepotidacin can be administered orally or intravenously.  BARDA is supporting continued development of the product and studies are underway to support its use as a medical countermeasure to treat anthrax infections.
  • SPR994: BARDA has partnered with DOD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency to support the development of a new oral antibiotic that could be used to treat infections caused by biothreat pathogens, including anthrax and plague, as well drug-resistant, Gram-negative infections, such as complicated urinary tract infections, that occur in hospitals and other healthcare settings.  If approved, SPR994 could become the first oral antibiotic in its class.

Future Directions

BARDA is interested in programs to develop and test antibacterial products that are in development to provide post-exposure protection and treatment of one or more of the following biodefense threat agents: anthrax, plague, tularemia, glanders, or melioidosis. To learn more, see the BARDA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA AOI 3.1).

  • This page last reviewed: March 29, 2019