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Corner Office from Marketplace

Superbugs create super opportunity

Helen Palmer Jun 7, 2007
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TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Sometimes a hospital isn’t the best place to get well. It’s becoming increasingly full of dangerous bugs resistant to antibiotics. About 5 out of every 100 patients catches an infection there. But, Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH, those statistics represent an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry.

Helen Palmer: In recent years, terms like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcusaureus — or MRSA— have begun to trip off our tongues as these dangerous bacteria have become a widespread problem in hospitals. New analysis says the costs are huge.

Mansi Shah: There’s probably about $1.5 billion spent on hospital acquired infections.

Mansi Shah is an analyst with research company Datamonitor. She says the drug industry’s risen to the challenge with effective new but pricey antibacterials. Pfizer’s Zyvox, for example, costs about $150 a day.

Shah: There’s lots of companies who’ve targeted that particular market and there’s lots of drugs in the pipeline targeted towards the MRSA market.

But Shah says choices are very limited for other resistant bacteria, including bugs that cause hospital-acquired pneumonia. Only one company, Johnson & Johnson, has drugs in the pipeline to tackle that. It filed for FDA approval of one just yesterday.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Sometimes a hospital isn’t the best place to get well. It’s becoming increasingly full of dangerous bugs resistant to antibiotics. About 5 out of every 100 patients catches an infection there. But, Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH, those statistics represent an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry.

Helen Palmer: In recent years, terms like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcusaureus — or MRSA— have begun to trip off our tongues as these dangerous bacteria have become a widespread problem in hospitals. New analysis says the costs are huge.

Mansi Shah: There’s probably about $1.5 billion spent on hospital acquired infections.

Mansi Shah is an analyst with research company Datamonitor. She says the drug industry’s risen to the challenge with effective new but pricey antibacterials. Pfizer’s Zyvox, for example, costs about $150 a day.

Shah: There’s lots of companies who’ve targeted that particular market and there’s lots of drugs in the pipeline targeted towards the MRSA market.

But Shah says choices are very limited for other resistant bacteria, including bugs that cause hospital-acquired pneumonia. Only one company, Johnson & Johnson, has drugs in the pipeline to tackle that. It filed for FDA approval of one just yesterday.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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