AUSTIN, Texas — The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use, for use in dogs, of a synthetic opioid to treat canine heart disease.

The agency said Thursday that the drug, called rifampin, is used for non-clinical indications and does not have FDA approval for human use.

The FDA said the approval for rifampsin follows studies that have shown the drug can treat conditions such as pneumonia and the coronavirus.

The decision to approve rifamsin was the latest step in the FDA’s efforts to develop new medicines to treat the canine disease pandemic, which has killed more than 14,000 people in the U.S. in 2017.

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