Monday, August 20, 2007

New NIAID Grants for Studying CA-MRSA

Recognizing the urgent need to develop antibiotics to address the explosion in community acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) skin and soft tissue infections, NIAID announced two new grants to study the efficacy of older, off-patent agents in treating these infections. If inexpensive drugs such as Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole or tetracyclines can be used, perhaps it will slow the use of expensive new drugs such as linezolid.

These older antibiotics are often used now by Infectious Diseases specialists, in an attempt to reserve new agents until absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, this trend goes against human nature. Many primary care physicians as well as some other specialists are anxious to use the new-fangled drugs. Some seem to need to boast that they are up to date by their use of the newest agents and scoff that use of inexpensive, older agents is behind the times.

The two new trials will be led by University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco. Each of the trials is designed to enroll up to 1,200 people. The associated contracts will total up to $19 million over five years.

While I am delighted to see the additional funding for this rapidly growing problem, the results of these studies will likely not be available for several years. In the interim, the excessive use of the new agents will continue, leading to further resistance. I sometimes wonder whether an urgent intervention, such as restricting the use of certain new drugs to specialists in the field, wouldn't be more rational, especially since there are almost no new antibiotics in the pipeline. I know this is heresy, but too much is at stake to squander our few resources in this battle. Perhaps we should be "unAmerican" and not allow business interests and free enterprise to win this battle but lose the global war.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:16 PM

    Elimination of S. aureus in the nasal passages and throat using an effective and safe disinfectant/antiseptic that can not become resistant to S. aurues would greatly reduce morbidity and mortality. Prophylactic de-colonization would reduce both community-acquired and hsopital-acquired S. aureus/MRSA infections.