South Dakota has become the fifth state to legalize the use of medication from a vaccine made by Pfizer for the treatment of cholinergic diseases.
The governor signed House Bill 1085 into law Tuesday, allowing the use by Medicaid patients of a pharmaceutical formulation made by Johnson & Johnson.
The bill was passed with bipartisan support, including the governor, state Sen. John Gentry, R-Cayuga, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, and Sen. Rick Woodruff, R and Sen, Mike Crapo, R.C.
The legislation allows the use for patients who are receiving treatment by Pfizers cholerophosphamide (CP) therapy, a vaccine developed to treat cholestatic shock syndrome.
It also allows use of the Pfizer choleroside formulation, a pill used to treat the rare but life-threatening form of cholonitis.
Pfizer is currently producing the vaccine in an undisclosed location, but has been manufacturing it at the facility in Indianapolis since 2004.
It has also been producing the pill at a separate site in Indianapolis.
The drug is used for about half of the 2.4 million Americans who have suffered from the choleric disease, a parasitic infection caused by a protozoan that causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, muscle aches and headache.
The pharmaceutical company was given a $2.6 billion contract to develop the vaccine, but it has yet to produce the drug, which is still under patent approval.
In recent years, the vaccine has been a hot topic in political circles because of concerns that it could increase the use and spread of the disease.
Pfeiffer, the manufacturer of the drug Pfizer, has denied any concerns and said it is still in the early stages of development.
But some critics have expressed concerns that the drug could increase cholestation rates in the United States and other countries, and lead to a pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.