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Gonorrhea Nears Complete Drug Resistance

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Posted on Aug 11, 2012
Andres Rueda (CC BY 2.0)

Gonorrhea is showing resistance to all but one antibiotic drug used against it, U.S. health officials announced this week.

“We’re trying to sound the alarm to prevent untreatable gonorrhea from becoming a reality,” said Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re very concerned.”

An estimated 700,000 cases of gonorrhea occur in the United States each year, with fewer than half of them being reported. It is one of the most common STDs. Rates are highest among African-Americans and sexually active teenagers and young adults.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog:

Since 2007, the CDC had recommended treatment with one class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins, because ever-adaptable gonorrhea had outsmarted all other treatments used against it. That class of drugs includes an oral antibiotic, marketed under the brand name Suprax (cefixime) and an injectable antibiotic marketed under the brand name Rocephin (ceftriaxone). The CDC’s new recommendation means that only the injectable drug is now recommended for regular use, so patients need to get a shot rather than taking pills.

... The new guidelines could be tough for many doctors to follow, given that they don’t regularly stock the injectable drug (it is stocked generally in STD clinics). Many patients prefer pills to shots. And the guidelines also call on clinicians to monitor closely for possible resistance to the shot and make sure patients are cured — meaning they have to return to the doctor’s office.

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