Sex and Drugs

CDC Warns Untreatable Gonorrhea Is on the Way:
Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, is increasingly showing resistance to one of the last known effective antibiotic treatments, leading researchers from the Centers for Disease Control to "sound the alarm" about potentially untreatable forms of the disease.

"During the past three years, the wily gonococcus has become less susceptible to our last line of antimicrobial defense, threatening our ability to cure gonorrhea," Gail Bolan, director of the CDC's sexually transmitted disease prevention program, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine last week.

According to the CDC, gonorrhea has a long history of developing immunity to antibiotics, but doctors have always had a stronger medicine up their sleeves to treat patients. Not anymore—about 1.7 percent of gonorrhea is now resistant to cephalosporins, the last line of defense against gonorrhea. That might not seem like much, but it's a 17-fold increase since 2006, when about one tenth of one percent of gonorrhea was believed to have resistance to cephalosporins.
All I could think reading this story is the numbers of young people who contracted gonorrhea during this same period because condoms were not made available to them in the service of bullshit abstinence-only sex ed programs which are a humongo failure.

Anyway, this issue highlights another important general healthcare issue:
"As far as gonorrhea goes, I'm not aware of any new drugs in the pipeline," says [Nicole Mahoney, senior officer of the antibiotics and innovation project at PEW Charitable Trusts]. "This is just one more example of a bigger problem—bacteria are developing resistance faster than we're inventing new medicines to fight them."

Mahoney says Congress and the Food and Drug Administration should encourage and reward pharmaceutical companies to devise new antibiotics. According to a PEW report, only two new classes of antibiotics have been introduced since 1968 because antibiotics are difficult to produce and are less profitable than other drugs.
We often hear the refrain that the US has the best healthcare system in the world!!!eleventy!—which, for a long time, might have actually been true for the people privileged enough to have access to it. But it's just not true anymore. Even people who have the means to pay for top-notch care in the US aren't getting cutting-edge care anymore: They're getting whatever care is most profitable within our for-profit system.

In which the emphasis is increasingly on the profits rather than the care.

It wasn't always like this. It doesn't have to be like this.

Unfortunately, we've got no one with a prominent national platform who's willing to make the case that we've lost our way, that greed isn't good, that the market won't solve everything, and that our priorities have become very, very fucked up. Because they're all in a for-profitcontribution business, too.

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