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FDA approves breakthrough drug for frostbite treatment

2024.03.15 17:25:50 Yeonwoo Ko

[A person in snow. Photo Credit: Freerangestock]

On February 14th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,commonly known as the FDA, approved the first-ever drug designed to combat frostbite and mitigate the need for limb amputation.


Named Iloprost injection, also recognized under the brand name Aurlumyn, this medication operates by opening up the blood vessels to prevent blood clotting in the body.


Originally introduced in 2004 as a way to address pulmonary arterial hypertension, a condition characterized by constricted lung blood vessels impeding blood flow to the heart, Iloprost has been used across various regions worldwide long before receiving FDA endorsement in the United States.


Frostbite occurs when the skin freezes after being exposed to the cold for a long time.


Feet, hands, toes, and fingers are more likely to be affected by frostbite since they are most likely to lose heat when they are exposed to the cold.


Symptoms of frostbite include limbs getting numb, skin turning into an unusual color like white or purple, inability to move the limb, and the skin becoming hard.


Frostbite has three stages, with stage three being severe frostbite where the limb turns whitish-blue and may result in amputation.


While reversible in its early stages, severe frostbite can cause blood clotting, ultimately cutting off the bloodstream from the affected limb.


When the bloodstream is cut off from the limb, it results in the limb dying, which must be removed by amputation.


Having severe frostbite to the point of amputation is fairly rare and only happened to one in 100,000 people between 2016 and 2018.


However, it still occurs and causes consequential damage to the body, resulting in only limited activities that can be done with an amputation.


Severe frostbites are difficult to treat even for experts and skilled doctors.


The only effective way severe frostbites can be treated without affecting the human body is by removing the affected area.


Experts have tried other ways to prevent amputations; however, it resulted in many extreme side effects and risks for the human body.


Iloprost doesn’t have the dangerous risks like the other methods of saving a frostbite and has been proved to be more effective.


However, there are still side effects from iloprost, which includes nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and heart palpitations.


Many people are still hesitant about the new drug, but with the help of modern technology, scientists are hoping it would lessen the side effects and can be used with ease.


Experts advise that although there is a drug that can reduce the risk of amputations to the limb, there are still several side effects that can do more harm than good.


They also advise people to prevent the risk of frostbite altogether by taking precautions.


Experts recommend not staying in the cold for long periods and keeping the body warm, especially in areas where frostbites can easily happen, like the hands and feet.


As Iloprost advances in the years to come, there is great hope in the future that the risk of amputation can be significantly lowered.

Yeonwoo Ko / Grade 10 Session 4
Adlai E Stevenson High School