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Antibiotic Resistance Still a Major Public Health Threat
Date:10/30/2009

Studies show it's worsening while there are few new drugs in pipeline

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to present a major public health problem, said scientists gathering at one of the world's largest infectious diseases meetings Friday.

Chief among the concerns are resistant gram-negative bacteria and bacteria that appears to be infecting younger and otherwise healthier people. The troubling trend is compounded by another concerning fact: a paucity of new antibiotics coming down the pipeline, they added.

"Antibiotic development is dying, and we are running out of drugs. We have organisms that are already resistant to every antibiotic we can throw at them," said Dr. Brad Spellberg, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America's (IDSA) Antimicrobial Availability Task Force and an assistant professor of medicine at UCLA. "What will be increasingly seen in the coming decade is a dramatic decline in the availability of new antibiotics, which are desperately needed."

Spellberg spoke during a teleconference from the IDSA annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Antibiotic resistance, even to new drugs, has become such an issue with nasty gram-negative bacteria that clinicians have had to reach back into the arsenal, resurrecting a drug that hadn't been used much in 20 years, polymyxin.

But now pathogens are becoming resistant to that drug as well, analysis of lab samples at one New York City hospital showed.

"Although the prevalence of gram-negative bacteria resistant to polymyxin is currently at a relatively low level of around 6 percent, we noted over a relatively short two-year timeframe that the prevalence of resistance to that agent increased by about 50 percent," said Dr. Jason Kessler, lead author of a study detailing the findings, which are scheduled to be presented at the meeting.

"In addition, amongst all of the
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