Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Is it Time for America to Panic About Antibiotics?

More and more bacterial infections are resisting antibiotics, and the public may not realize how big a threat this poses to health worldwide.

This is according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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“The CDC is concerned about rising resistant infections in health care settings and in the community,” the GAO report said.

“For example, one type of bacteria, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae — which CDC calls a ‘nightmare bacteria’ — is resistant to nearly all available antibiotics and can survive in sink drains at health care facilities and spread to patients and to the environment through wastewater. According to CDC, these bacteria had spread to all 50 states by 2017.”


Drug companies in recent years discontinued their antibiotic development programs. According to the GAO, four large pharmaceutical companies worldwide had antibiotics in clinical development in 2018. Nearly 30 years prior, in 1990, 18 large pharmaceutical companies researched and developed antibiotics.

To make matters worse, two antibiotic companies declared bankruptcy in 2019. One filed for bankruptcy 10 months after its antibiotic received FDA approval.

“Experts warn that the current pipeline of antibiotics in development is insufficient to meet the threat of resistance,” the GAO report said.

“For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2021, only 46 antibiotics were in clinical development globally— meaning clinical trials were being conducted to test their safety and efficacy in humans—and only 28 of them targeted bacteria on WHO’s priority list.”

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Multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) want companies to develop new antibiotics.

“Two antibiotic developers we spoke with for our March 2020 report explained that while these types of incentives provided needed funding for conducting research and development, they will not help cover the costs to manufacture and market the product once it is approved,” according to the GAO.

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