An Antibiotic Wake-Up Call

Publication: Los Angeles Times


02/16/2012 - On the growing roster of antibiotic-resistant diseases, gonorrhea is the one that has most recently captured the attention of public health officials. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last week that 1.7% of certain types of gonorrhea infections show little response to treatment, even with cephalosporins, the last line of antibiotic defense.

That might not sound like a lot, but with 600,000 Americans diagnosed annually, resistant cases number about 10,000 a year, and that number has been rising fast. Resistant gonorrhea is 17 times more common than it was just six years ago.

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According to the nonprofit Pew Health Group, from 1935 to 1968, 13 classes of antibiotics were created; since 1968, there have been only two. Antibiotics are hard to develop and the profit margin on them is low because, unlike antidepressants or medications for high blood pressure, they're not usually taken on a long-term basis.

Read the full editorial, An Antibiotic Wake-Up Call, on the Los Angeles Times' Web site.

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