The Top 5 articles this past week brought attention to serious issues impacting public health today, such as a growing measles outbreak in Minnesota, and measures that are being taken in the US government to stop the growing issue of antibiotic resistance. In addition, we provided an article focused on a new discovery recently made by University of North Carolina researchers on a potential new target for HIV therapies. Highlights of the recommended antibiotic recommendations in the recent Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Thoracic Society guidelines for treating nosocomial pneumonia are included in our #2 article of the week; and finally, our top article of the week is an insights piece that showcases expert commentary on just how close we are to curing HIV.
Learn more about our top 5 articles of the week, below:
#5: Measles Outbreak in Minnesota Linked to Drop in Vaccination Rates
The state of Minnesota continues to battle its largest measles outbreak in decades and officials have linked the outbreak to “a sharp decline in vaccination rates in a local Somali community.”
According to health officials, 48 cases of infection have been reported as of May 9, 2017. A total of 45 of these individuals had not received the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and 41 of the 48 individuals who are infected are members of a Somali community in the state. Although these numbers may not seem very high, to put it into perspective, prior to this outbreak, Minnesota saw “a total of 56 cases, either imported cases or linked to imported cases, in the last 20 years combined.”
The Minnesota Department of Health (DOH) was quick to assure the public that this outbreak is not directed at a specific community, but rather at the practice of not vaccinating children. In a statement released by the Minnesota DOH, Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, stated, “This is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities. There are people of all backgrounds around the state who have chosen not to protect themselves or their children. Often, that decision is based on good intentions and inaccurate information. It’s the responsibility of all of us who care about the health of Minnesota children to make sure people have accurate information and take action to protect their families and their communities.”
Currently, the outbreak has spread across 3 counties (Hennepin, Ramsey, and Crow Wing).
Learn more about the Minnesota measles outbreak here
#4: Implications of the 21st Century Cures Act on Antibiotic Drug Development
Editorial Advisory Board member, John Mohr, PharmD, and colleagues weighed in on what Congress is doing to tackle the threat of antibiotic resistance in this week’s fourth top article of the week. Because of an increase in antibiotic resistance and the fact that bacteria continue to evolve, the development of new antibiotics to combat these issues is paramount. Although current development measures have, “fallen far behind the rising incidence of antibiotic-resistant infections,” an approval pathway for new antibiotics “intended to treat serious and rare pathogens,” may encourage new research. The approval pathway, dubbed the Limited Population Antibacterial Drug (LPAD) regulatory pathway is included in a law signed by President Barack Obama in December 2016: the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act).
The LPAD regulatory pathway “provides the FDA flexibility in the approval of antibiotics intended for limited patient populations,” by potentially allowing for “smaller descriptive clinical datasets supplemented by robust nonclinical data.” In addition, among other directions, the “LPAD directs the FDA to consider the benefit–risk profile in the intended population, the availability of alternative treatment options, and the severity and rarity of the infection that the antibiotic is intended to treat.”
In addition to LPAD pathway, the Cures Act encourages increased efforts to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, as well as widespread monitoring of antibiotic resistance. Healthcare facilities and organizations across the country will be provided with the necessary mechanisms to appropriately monitor antibiotic resistance and implement antibiotic stewardship programs. Their findings will be reported annually, and trends and progress will be tracked. The first report is expected later this year.
Read more about how the 21st Century Cures Act could impact antibiotic resistance here