Contagious Disease Public Health

Can drug companies cure drug-resistant gonorrhea? Will they even try to do so?

Drug-resistant gonorrhea has been reported in 17 European countries and could soon arrive in the U.S.  Will Pharma develop new drugs to fight this more robust version of the disease?  The answer may be no.

Companies have been reluctant to invest in developing new antibiotics because they are used sparingly, and often held in reserve to prevent resistance, del Rio said. There’s little incentive to develop new drugs because there isn’t as much profit in them, he said.

The government has tried to make the development of more antibiotics more attractive for drug companies from a dollars and cents perspective.

In June, the U.S. Senate reauthorized the Prescription Drug User Fee Act in June, adding a section called “Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now,” to encourage drugmakers to develop new antibiotics for life-threatening infections. Under the new language, qualified drugs would receive an additional five years of market exclusivity and a faster review.

The question is does this initiative provide enough of an incentive?  Robert Guidos, vice president for public policy at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, comments on the Prescription Drug User Fee Act stating:

“It’s valuable, and it’s obviously sparked a lot of attention in industry. But it isn’t enough.”

Background on Gonorrhea symptoms

Gonorrhea is often symptomless, at first by symptoms develop over time. According to Wikipedia:

In men, inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis); prostate gland (prostatitis) and urethral stricture (urethritis) can result from untreated gonorrhea.[17] In women, the most common result of untreated gonorrhea is pelvic inflammatory disease. Other complications include perihepatitis,[17] a rare complication associated with Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome; septic arthritis in the fingers, wrists, toes, and ankles; septic abortion; chorioamnionitis during pregnancy; neonatal or adult blindness from conjunctivitis; and infertility.

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