Antibiotic apocalypse in Asia

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ACSH advisor, Dr. David Shlaes has written a very frightening blog post discussing bacterial resistance in Asia. Here are some excerpts:

Discussing NDM-1 (the superbug resistant to just about everything), he says, Well its here in other parts of Southeast Asia with a vengeance. In both Malaysia and Sri Lanka over 50% of community acquired urinary tract infection caused by E. coli is caused by strains carrying ESBLs and these are frequently so resistant that oral therapy for the infection is not possible. So the patients have to be treated intramuscularly or intravenously either as outpatients or in the hospital (as opposed to staying home and taking pills).

And with this resistance, he brings up the prevalence of counterfeit drugs, especially in Asia. I learned that 5% of the global pharmaceutical market is made up of counterfeits. 80% of the copies are made in Asia and over 40% of their use occurs in Asia. Most of the counterfeits contain no active ingredient. Some contain lower amounts of the active ingredient great for selecting resistance. Some contain another product altogether.

And he ends on the grim note, unless we do something about how antibiotics are manufactured, branded and dispensed here, our pipeline will go up in smoke as soon as it hits the streets.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom says, Most of us are well aware of the problem of antibacterial resistance in developed countries. But I was astounded to learn of the situation in Asia. It is a scene from Road Warrior. And these resistant bugs will quite happily cross the Pacific (even in coach), so we are getting a glimpse of our future. And it is not pretty.