Monday, October 31, 2011

Act supporting research into antibacterial-resistant solutions introduced to Senate

The GAIN Act (Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now) was introduced into Senate last week. It's currently supported by both democrats and republicans in the House and the Senate, however, so far it has taken a backseat to the overshadowing issues of economic crisis.

This act seeks to make research into solutions for antibiotic-resistant bacteria profitable enough to attract pharmaceutical companies to devote their resources to the problem. Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson, both large pharmaceutical companies, have recently shut down some or all of their antibacterial resistance research, because the profits are miniscule when compared to other drugs they manufacture. The mot profitable drugs for large pharmaceutical companies are those that have to be taken for years and even decades. Drugs that would fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria would only need to be taken for a few days.

These shutdowns come at a bad time, as deaths from anti-biotic resistant diseases have reached a high this last year, causing about 70,000 deaths in the United States. These infections are mostly hospital-acquired, and are often MRSA or vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Additionally, these infections cost the U.S. healthcare system up to $34 billion a year.

The author of this article was pessimistic that the incentives offered by the GAIN Act would be enough to encourage pharmaceutical companies to continue their research. Until this issue becomes a crisis, it's just more profitable to make other drugs.

--Sarah Kaewert

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