‘Brain-eating amoeba’ drug available at Tampa VA: Profounda CEO

The investigational drug, at least partially credited for saving the life of 16-year-old Sebastian Deleon, the teen that was infected with the 97 percent lethal “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri, miltefosine is on the shelves at the Tampa VA hospital as part of a consignment program between the Orlando-based pharmaceutical company, Profunda and at least seven hospitals to date, according to Profounda CEO, Todd MacLaughlan.


MacLaughlin, in an interview on the Tampa Bay-based talk radio program, Outbreak News This Week, said that the drug, trade name Impavido, is now on consignment at seven hospitals–2 in Florida (Orlando and the Tampa VA), two in Texas, two in South Carolina and one in North Carolina.

The drug, which is FDA approved for the treatment for the parasitic disease, Leishmaniasis, is also an investigational drug for the treatment of the Free living amoeba (FLA) to include N. fowleri.

“In the pharmaceutical industry you have to make usually about 100,000 doses of a product just to show you can manufacture it consistently”, MacLaughlan said. “What would happen since we’re talking less than 50 patients, probably 30-40 patients per year, you basically make 100,000 capsules, put it the warehouse and when you’re done you throw away 99 percent of them.”

MacLaughlan continued, “Rather than having the product expire at the warehouse, if it’s going to expire, let it expire in the community itself.”

Thus Profounda began a no charge consignment program- basically any hospital that want to have it, can have it.

MacLaughlan also points out that when treating the amoeba, timeliness is everything. The drug was delivered from Profounda’s warehouse to Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando to treat Sebastian Deleon within 30 minutes.

“To be honest with you, MacLaughlan notes, it would be nice if we didn’t waste 30 minutes of time. How much time do you want the amoeba to be eating your brain before you start treating it?”

The Outbreak News This Week Radio Show, the first and only radio program dedicated to infectious disease news and information, airs every Sunday at 8 pm ET in the Tampa Bay area on AM 1380 The Biz and online at





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