Infectious disease specialist Dr. Brad Spellberg weighs in on the current state of drug-resistant pathogens.
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Andrew: Where is Tom Stern now, does he still have ESPL collie in his system? Male1: I think it’s likely that Tom still does have the ESPL collie inside the colon. You know to try to eradicate that I’m not sure how we would do it. The hope is he’s not going to have another case of that particular colitis and the good news for Tom is it sounds like they were able to resects the parts of the colon that had the diverticulosis in it. Andrew: But big question hopefully you have an answer why are these organisms becoming so resistant. Male1: Well we try to kill bacteria with antibiotics. The bacteria don’t want to be killed. That’s simple, they mutate so that they survive the selective pressure. When we expose with antibiotics and they’ve always done this. It’s just the rate is speeding up, because the use of antibiotics is increasing and the big difference is we’re not developing new antibiotics anymore. That’s where we’re getting us a new trouble. Female: Well that brings up the big question. Why aren’t we developing a more and more antibiotic that can pass this resistance? Male1: Yes that’s the million dollar question. There are two big reasons we’re not developing new antibiotic. The first is that you take an antibiotic for 7 days then you stop. And companies have figured out they can make a lot more money selling a drug you have to take everyday for the rest of your life. A cholesterol drug, a diabetes drug so the return on investment of antibiotics is not competitive to other drug classes. Companies have simply gotten out of business. Male2: So there’s no incentive to complete a new drug? Male1: That’s correct! At the same time the standard of the food and drug administration for getting new antibiotics in to the market have been changing and no body really knows what they are anymore. We’re already seeing infections that are resistant to every available antibiotic. Now fortunately Tom infections have a couple of options left but that’s not the case for all infection we’re seeing. We are already moving in that direction but if we don’t turn this around, medicine is going to be set back 75 years. Travis: Well we’re not trying to be alarmed here but I think that all of us doctors here would say that we’re frightened by this. There’s not a day I go to a hospital, I don’t think what drug resistant bug may I take home today. Because this is a real life battle going on in each and every hospital in America and I think we’re all saying, look this may only get worst so number 1, if your doctor prescribes antibiotics like you’ve always said, Take it if you need it, but don’t go in begging for antibiotics for cold because it doesn’t cure your cold all it does is cause resistant which leads to illnesses like Tom dealt with. Which are drug resistant organisms that can be so incredibly scary, that we can’t treat them? It scares me and totally scares you. Male1: Absolutely! Travis: So this is going to be something where we’ll be talking more and more about but certainly in your case Tom, we’re so thankful that you’re doing better. Tom: Thank you. Travis: Thanks for sharing your story with us. Tom: My pleasure. Male1: Thank you!