Who Gets the Antibiotics?

Publication: Philadelphia Inquirer

Author: Karen Knee

09/14/2009 - At Temple University School of Medicine, a medical resident and avid bike rider in his late 20s noticed a nasty red swelling in his groin. A day and a half later, it had grown as big as a lime.

He went to the hospital, where doctors drained the abscess and cultured the bacteria in it. It turned out he had a powerful, drug-resistant infection called MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. He endured surgery, a round of intravenous antibiotics, and two relapses, but recovered fully before returning to treat patients.

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Resistant infections are dangerous because they're harder to stop early, so they more often cause serious illness or death. A 2007 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 20,000 people in the U.S. die from MRSA alone each year. That's more than the number who die annually from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Faced with these sobering statistics, the American Medical Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, which sponsored the academy meeting, support the PAMTA bill, which was introduced in March. But others, including the American and Pennsylvania Farm Bureaus and the American Veterinary Medical Association, don't think it's such a good idea.

Read the full article Who Gets the Antibiotics? on the Philadelphia Inquirer's Web site.

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