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Editorial Library Category: Mining Topics: Mining, Healthcare Products Title: Healthcare Mining Products Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Antibiotics are considered to be one of the major accomplishments of the 20 th century. But when Alexander Fleming identified and developed penicillin early in the 20 th century, it was an accident. Editorial: Healthcare Mining Products 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Antibiotics are considered to be one of the major accomplishments of the 20 th century. But when Alexander Fleming identified and developed penicillin early in the 20 th century, it was an accident. Alexander Fleming (1881–1955) understood the significance of antibiotics because in addition to being a physician and research scientist, he was also a veteran of World War I. He had seen many soldiers die because of preventable infections. Dr. Fleming published his discovery in 1929; by World War II, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, two scientists who were interested in his work, figured out how to mass produce penicillin so it could be used by physicians during World War II. Medical professionals began to use penicillin and then other antibiotics to treat infections, sterilize operating rooms, and prevent the spread of bacterial disease by using antibacterial soap. Penicillin was an effective way to treat diseases such as the following: Diphtheria Gonorrhea Meningitis Bacterial pneumonia Scarlet fever Of these diseases, we still fight with gonorrhea and pneumonia, both viral and bacterial, but the others have mostly lost their horror because (thanks to vaccinations and antibiotics) they are not a huge problem anymore in the U.S. Think about what it was like for people before we thought most of these diseases had been tamed. Unfortunately, that is not just a historical exercise. Everyone is headed straight back to that world unless we can come up with effective alternatives to oral or IV antibiotics. For example, the treatment for gonorrhea now involves two drugs, not just one: intramuscular ceftriaxone and oral azithromycin. Too often today, bacteria often resist or ignore antibiotics. This is something Dr. Fleming had understood would happen, and he spoke about antibiotic resistance when he accepted a Nobel Prize in 1945. By the 1950s, bacteria had become so resistant to penicillin that it was a real problem for physicians. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) was identified in Britain in 1962. By 1968, it had been identified in the U.S. as well. This was not information anyone wanted to hear or know about, then or later. The initial, short-term response was just to come up with new antibiotics to use instead. However, the World Health Organization has now gathered information from its 114 member nations about resistant infections in communities and in hospitals. Commonly used antibiotics that treat E. coli, K. pneumoniae, and S. aureus have become ineffective against some forms of bacteria more than 50 percent of the time. Two million people in the U.S. are sickened every year by infections that don’t respond to antibiotics; 23,000 of those people die as a result. Hospitals, in particular, are part of the problem. For example, physicians have struggled to deal with MRSA infections, some of which can only be treated by putting powerful antibiotics through an IV. That IV use can cause complications, and the time spent by patients who are admitted to hospitals because of acute bacterial infections of the skin or the skin structures is expensive. Admissions for this kind of problem increased 73 percent between 1997 and 2011. Patients stayed an average of 5.2 days; the average bill was $10,000 per stay for each one, and the longer the stay, the more likely it was that the patient picked up an infection from the hospital itself. That wasn’t the only problem. In years past, between 600,000 and 1.1 million patients have been hospitalized in the U.S. every year because they caught pneumonia. The cost of treatment has risen to more than $17 billion. Worse, it turns out that antibiotics don’t distinguish between good bacteria and bad bacteria. As is so often the case in medicine, there is a real downside to using antibiotics that most people ignored