27 Dec Australia to Face a Shortage of Antibiotics
Australians could die from a shortage of antibiotics, an infectious diseases expert says.
Hospitals are already stockpiling and rationing back-up antibiotics to deal with a national shortage.
Australian National University Medical School professor of infectious diseases Peter Collignon said the use of these substitute antibiotics was a risk to patient safety.
‘These are decisions that will lead to the deaths of people if they can’t get an effective antibiotic,’ the Canberra-based microbiologist told The Sun-Herald.
These back-up treatments are also more likely to see superbugs develop, which are resistant to antibiotics.
Drugs to treat diarrhea, chickenpox, shingles and genital herpes are the latest antibiotics to be in short supply.
These medicines are also the least likely to cause resistance to antibiotics.
Vancomycin, an antibiotic used to treat diarrhea, will not be available until February 2017, drug manufacturer Pfizer has confirmed.
‘Bad luck if you have a serious life-threatening infection,’ Dr Collignon tweeted.
It is also used to treat a common superbug in Australian hospitals, methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus.
Dr Collignon slammed the major drug companies for failing to stock up on antiobiotics and antiviral drugs.
‘Not having the drug is almost the same as having a bug so resistant the drug doesn’t work; patients do very badly,’ Dr Collignon told Fairfax Media.
‘This is, in my view, is absolutely unacceptable.’
He also took to Twitter to slam drug manufacturer Pfizer for failing to produce enough Vancomycin.
‘How can Pfizer and other big pharma companies let so many antiobiotics and antivirals be out of stock for so long?,’ he asked.
A spokesman for Pfizer said the exit of other manufacturers and distributors had caused the supply shortage for Vancomycin and metronidazole, a drug used to treat bacterial infections.
‘There is no concern with the quality, safety or efficacy of any of the three medicines,’ he said in a statement to Fairfax Media.