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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

No Antibiotics For Future Infections? Possible If Nothing Is Done Today

 

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance

No Antibiotics For Future Infections? Possible If Nothing Is Done Today

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today article

The world is moving towards the unthinkable scenario of untreatable infections as fewer antibacterial drugs are discovered and more and more people are becoming resistant to existing drugs, researchers from University of Birmingham, England, reported in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The article coincides with the European Antibiotics Awareness Day, and warns about the urgency of the situation and the actions needed to turn it around.

People have become so used to antibioticsbeing readily available that there is no sense of urgency regarding the lack of new drugs, or in existing antibiotic’s essential tasks to prolong life.

A wide spectrum of medical procedures, including many elderly people whose immune system has weakened, rely on antibiotics to fend off opportunistic infections. Even fairly simple procedures, for example, transrectal prostate biopsies that are typically used to detectprostate cancer, become problematic because of antibiotic resistant infections.

Author Professor Laura Piddock explains:

“When patients are denied treatment with a new cancer drug because of its expense, there is public outrage despite the possibility of extending life by only a few weeks. Antibiotics are not perceived as essential to health or the practice of medicine, despite such agents saving lives so that individuals can live for many years after infection.”

According to an announcement made by the WHO (World Health Organization) 2 years ago, antibiotic resistance is one of the three biggest health threats, yet politicians, the public, and the media have been slow to understand the urgency of the situation. …

Put simply: The pharmaceutical industry finds that after spending a lot of money developing a new drug, they are then faced with many regulatory barriers, only to find that when their new medication is finally approved, it is not effective for long because the bacterium rapidly develops resistance to it.

One serious problem is the approach of drug trials for antibiotics. Researchers recruit people with infections who are not necessarily infected with the bacteria that the drug is designed to kill, which in turn affects efficacy results.

According to Professor Piddock, this problem could be eliminated by using point-of-care tests to identify the precise bacteria causing the infection and excluding that particular individual from the study if they do not have the bacterium which is being targeted. The number of people required for a trial is currently prohibitively high, yet an approach like this would reduce the number of people needed for each trial, and also ensure that those participating receive the drug that is specifically targeted to their infection.

The profile of this issue must be raised in order to overcome the barriers to new antibiotic discovery and development. In response to this, the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy has launched Antibiotic Action, a campaign that has already obtained worldwide support, from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, ReACT, charities, and not-for-profit agencies amongst others.

All these initiatives represent patients who depend on effective antibiotic treatment.

Professor Piddock states:

“As absence of new antibiotics affects everyone, shifting this issue out of the medical arena and into the public eye is paramount, which will stimulate governments to act. To do this, Antibiotic Action is using the latest communication methods including Twitter; this approach will assist as many individuals as possible to sign one of two on-line petitions, one for UK citizens and another for those from outside the UK.” (http://antibiotic-action.com/petition/ )

  • Government Facing Ticking Time Bomb Over Lack of Desperately Needed New Antibiotics, warns Antibiotic Action (prweb.com)
  • New clinical trial approach reduces time and costs of many studies (jflahiff.wordpress.com)

    From an April 8 2011 Stanford School of Medicine Press Release

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2011) — Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System are testing a new kind of clinical trial that’s not only less costly but guides doctors to switch to the best treatment even before the trial is completed. The new approach — called a point-of-care clinical trial — was developed by Stanford University biostatistician Philip Lavori, PhD, and a Boston-based team as an alternative to expensive, lengthy, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials to compare drugs and procedures that are already in regular use.

    “The goal of point-of-care clinical trials is to deliver the best care to patients while learning from each experience and redefining that care,” said Lavori, a professor of health research and policy at Stanford’s School of Medicine and the senior author of an article on the method to be published online April 4 in Clinical Trials. “This ‘learning and improving’ loop will enable health-care institutions to more rapidly fold improvements into their medical practices,” he said….

    …”The idea of embedding research into clinical care has been around for quite awhile but to my knowledge this is the first time that a randomized trial has been fully integrated into a hospital’s informatics system,” said Fiore. “It demonstrates an effective way to use electronic medical records to improve health care at a local level.”…

  • People believe ‘antibiotic myths’ (bbc.co.uk)
  • European Antibiotics Awareness Day (2020health.wordpress.com)
  • GPs told to resist antibiotics requests for coughs and colds (guardian.co.uk)
  • Antibiotics will never cure a cold (aboundingwellness.wordpress.com)
  • Health Tip: Why Antibiotic Resistance Is Serious (nlm.nih.gov)

November 20, 2011 - Posted by | Public Health | ,

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