MRSA Action UK: When the drugs don’t work

MRSA Action UK helps to bring the human cost to the attention of government and industry over the ticking time bomb and lack of desperately needed antibiotics.

Sue Fallon will appear on the ITV ‘Tonight’ programme ‘When the drugs don’t work’, on Thursday 24th October at 7:30pm.

As part of the investigation into the extent of which some drugs are being over-prescribed and how a growing number of infections are becoming antibiotic resistant, experts will be discussing the issue of rising antibiotic resistance contrasted with a dearth of new suitable antibiotics. Experts will also discuss why the majority of big pharmaceutical companies have now left antimicrobial research.

Basically, if we don't address the issue of resistance to our current range of antibiotics, we risk the health of our parents, our children and our grandchildren.

Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England has said that antibiotics add, on average, twenty years to our lives.

Since the discovery and manufacture of penicillin in 1943, we have survived extraordinary operations and life-threatening infections. We have taken them for granted and all too often misused them, as patients, doctors, as travellers, and in our food through agricultural practices.  Antibiotics can be fed to healthy farm animals to promote growth and prevent diseases that would otherwise result from crowded agricultural facilities. Many of these antibiotics are identical or closely related to drugs used to treat us.

No new class of antibiotic has been discovered for over a quarter of a century and the superbugs are fighting back. If we do not take responsibility now, in a few decades we may start dying from the most commonplace of operations and ailments that can today be treated easily.

We are already seeing major problems in the healthcare environment and in the community with infections that are becoming extremely difficult to treat and are causing premature deaths. There are worrying developments in Mupirocin resistance and there is a need to understand more about carriage, mutation and transmission of MRSA, and of course other multi-resistant bacteria, in particular E.coli.

ESBL-producing E. Coli make enzymes called Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamases which can break down antibiotics such as penicillin. The levels of ESBL-positive E. coli started increasing around a decade ago.

Now, of the 30,000 cases of E. coli blood infections reported each year, 10% are thought to be resistant. Appropriate treatment can be very effective, if we have the drugs that work.

Our president Professor Hugh Pennington is preparing advice for the Academy of Medical Sciences response to the call from the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Antibiotic Resistance. Professor Pennington is focusing on the need to roll out microbial genome sequencing as soon as possible to make the tracking of strains much better, to identify new antibiotic targets quicker, and achieve more accurate sensitivity testing.

Sue Fallon tells the harrowing story of her daughter Sammie who died from MRSA (Meticillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) at the age of 17, showing the human cost of when the drugs don't work.

Derek Butler
MRSA Action UK
07762 741114