Practically incurable “nightmare bacteria” are on the rise and antibiotics to fight them are limited. In fact, only seven new antibiotics are currently being developed to fight superbugs such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Enterobacter aerogenes, and Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia (CRKP) – which is almost completely resistant to existing antibiotics. In particular, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, recently referred to CRE as a “nightmare bacteria” because of its antibiotic resistance, ability to spread its resistance and high mortality rate. To put the risk of superbugs in perspective, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) “kills more Americans each year than HIV/AIDS, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide combined.”
Currently, when faced with these superbugs, clinicians must often turn to potentially toxic antibiotics such as polymyxin, which can damage the brain and kidneys. And, according to the President of the Infectious Disease Society of America, new solutions are critical as the development of new medications to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria is “’on life support.’” This is remarkable considering the billions of dollars spent on developing “lifestyle drugs” and the large number of cancer treatments that are currently in progress. However, perhaps the small number of new antibiotics in development is not so remarkable considering the cost of producing new drugs. More specifically, developing a drug that patients will use continuously costs the same as developing antibiotics, which are generally taken for a short period of time.
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