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Pharmaceutical conservation key to slowing rise of antibiotic-resistant infections
Date:9/6/2010

The United States must focus on conserving the use of antibacterial drugs, or face a public health crisis from rapidly rising rates of antibiotic-resistant infections, according to an analysis out today.

Evidence indicates that our nation's supply of antibiotics is being depleted by resistance, which occurs when infection-causing microbes mutate or change so that they no longer respond to widely-used treatments. Most proposals to solve this problem focus on giving pharmaceutical companies financial incentives to develop new drugs that could replace those that are no longer working.

But a new report published today in the September issue of Health Affairs suggests that approach won't work for long. New drugs will face microbial foes that figure out how to evade treatment, say two medical policy experts.

"This is a war we cannot win unless we adopt a two-pronged strategy: one that would boost the supply of new drugs and at the same time preserve the ones we have left," says Aaron Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., one of the paper's co-authors. He conducted the analysis of antibacterial drugs and their impact on public health through a grant from Public Health Law Research (PHLR), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The current pharmaceutical reimbursement system gives companies an incentive to oversell antibiotics, says Kesselheim, who is also an instructor in medicine in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Companies that have spent large sums of money on research and development for a new drug often seek to turn a profit on that product as quickly as possiblebefore resistance sets in, he says.

But the practice of aggressively marketing antibiotics actually adds to the resistance problem, says co-author Kevin Outterson, J.D., a professor at Boston University Law School. Overselling and overuse
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Contact: Becky Wexler
bwexler@burnesscommunications.com
301-652-1558
Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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