With Resistance to Treatment Rising, CDC Updates Gonorrhea Treatment Guidelines

From The National Coalition Of STD Directors:

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidelines for the treatment of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, which is a major cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility and can facilitate HIV transmission.[i]  CDC estimates there are more than 700,000 gonorrhea infections each year in the United States.  The updated guidelines were published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

The change marks an end to CDC exclusively recommending oral antibiotic treatment as the first line of defense for gonorrhea, and now instead recommends that infections be treated with the injectable antibiotic ceftriaxone in combination with one of two other oral antibiotics, either doxycycline or azithromycin.  This change in treatment has significant implications for clinical service delivery and infected patients alike, as the simple act of taking pills is replaced by an administered injection by a certified health professional.

“We applaud the CDC’s preemptive strike of changing recommended treatment and with the intention of extending the life of the last effective drug,” said William Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD). “However, the rising resistance of gonorrhea to our last line of defense against it must be a clarion call to policymakers and private industry alike to invest in the research and development pipeline for new antibiotics and more sophisticated diagnostics…and quickly.  We desperately need additional options to meet the challenges of this infection,” continued Smith.

Last summer, the CDC sounded the alarm on gonorrhea’s rising resistance to antimicrobials. This report outlined that we are on the verge of a highly untreatable gonorrhea epidemic as   gonorrhea has developed resistance to every class of antibiotics put up against it and there is no new drug in the pipeline.  Documented increases in resistance throughout the U.S. are what has prompted the CDC to make the current recommended treatment change.

Full presser here.

Gonorrhea And The Antibiotic Wake-up Call

I’ve been talking about this for a while now, but it’s now being seriously discussed in the mainstream media.

From the Los Angeles Times:

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On the growing roster of antibiotic-resistant diseases, gonorrhea is the one that has most recently captured the attention of public health officials. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last week that 1.7% of certain types of gonorrhea infections show little response to treatment, even with cephalosporins, the last line of antibiotic defense.

At this point, no matter what happens with cephalosporins, resistant gonorrhea is on its way to winning out over available antibiotics, making it one of many worrisome bacterial strains, such as total-drug-resistant tuberculosis and MRSA,or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Resistant infections are emerging faster than new antibiotics. According to the nonprofit Pew Health Group, from 1935 to 1968, 13 classes of antibiotics were created; since 1968, there have been only two. Antibiotics are hard to develop and the profit margin on them is low because, unlike antidepressants or medications for high blood pressure, they’re not usually taken on a long-term basis.

The demand for such classes of antibiotics is clearly growing- but outside of one of the board members of Merck or Abbott or Pfizer gets untreatable gonorrhea or MRSA- you can bet it won’t happen without a struggle.

Full story here.