LYMEPOLICYWONK: IDSA Calls for 10 New Antibiotics by 2020
In a press release issued at the end of last year, the IDSA called on the US and European Union to develop 10 new antibiotics by the year 2020. IDSA President Richard Whitley said that “creating a stable research infrastructure for antibiotic development” was essential to provide physicians with the tools necessary to effectively treat patients. That’s good news for the Lyme community because unacceptably high treatment failures occur with all current antibiotics used to treat Lyme disease and the rate of development of new antibiotics has been low. Pharmaceuticals have not been interested in developing new antibiotics because they do not generate the level of profit that drugs that are taken by a broad demographic over the course of a lifetime, like cholesterol medication, do. This is the good news. Now for the bad news.
The bad news is that part of the plan includes a task force regarding the “appropriate use of antimicrobial drugs in medical and veterinary communities, prevention of both health care- and community-associated drug-resistant infections.” While Lyme patients agree that managing these issues are important, we find that the IDSA overlooks the major cause of antibiotic resistance (the use of antibiotics in animals) and points to antibiotic resistance as an excuse for denying sick Lyme patients the treatment they need to restore their health. In addition, the IDSA does not emphasize the role of hospital hygiene (or the lack thereof) that fosters antibiotic resistant infections in hospitals. Hospital hygiene measures are unpopular with hospitals because they pose additional costs. Restricting antibiotic use in farm animals is unpopular because the antibiotics increase weight gain and reduce the costs of feeding livestock. Both the hospital industry and agri-business maintain large lobbies to protect their financial interests. Lyme patients on the other hand cannot compete with the lobbying resources of these industries. As a result the emphasis on antibiotic resistance has come at the expense of patients, who should have the first right to the use of antibiotics for health. It would be nice if the IDSA got its priorities right for a change.
You can follow additional comments on Lyme policy at www.lymepolicywonk.org. You can contact Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA at firstname.lastname@example.org.