NexoBrid, an Israeli burn treatment enzyme gel derived from pineapple, is included in a stockpile being gathered by a US government agency responsible for national preparedness for public-health emergencies.

The $16.5 million procurement of NexoBrid was approved by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

NexoBrid is made by MediWound of Yavneh, Israel. The staged purchase is being facilitated through MediWound’s exclusive US commercial partner, Vericel.

“Our country faces a multitude of evolving threats that could result in an overwhelming number of people suffering from burn injuries,” explained BARDA Director Rick Bright. “Today’s purchase is part of our ongoing efforts to provide first responders and other medical professionals with fast access to the products they will need to save as many lives as possible.”

BARDA holds an option to procure additional quantities of NexoBrid through funding of up to $50 million.

“The initiation of the NexoBrid procurement by BARDA is a significant milestone in our partnership with BARDA,” said MediWound Chief Executive Officer Sharon Malka. “We have been working with BARDA since 2015 on multiple development and training initiatives with the mutual goal of adding NexoBrid to ASPR’s portfolio of medical countermeasures for mass casualty emergencies.”

Spread on burned skin, NexoBrid removes nonviable burn tissue (eschar) in patients with deep partial and full-thickness thermal burns.

NexoBrid is approved in the European Union, Israel, Argentina, South Korea, Russia and Peru. It’s designated as an orphan biologic drug in the United States. It has not yet gotten full Food and Drug Administration approval, but the FDA can allow an unapproved medical product that qualifies as a mass casualty medical countermeasure to be used in a public health emergency.

A medical team from Sheba Medical Center in Israel brought NexoBrid on its June 2018 humanitarian mission to treat victims of the Guatemalan volcano.