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Choosing to let patients with superbug infections die rather than phage them?

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In Canada the official body counters tell us that "an estimated 220,000 patients who walk through the doors of hospitals each year suffer the unintended and often devastating consequences of an infection" and they also estimate that 8,000 to 12,000 Canadian patients die annually from such infections and I have read claims that a similar number of limb amputations are done to cure such infections. That means as many as 30 Canadians become victims of superbug infections each day.

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In the USA the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus seriously sickened more than 94,000 Americans in 2005 and almost 19,000 died, more than the 17,000 Americans who died of AIDS-related causes.

Yet the French-Canadian microbiologist, Felix d'Herelle, while working at the Institute Pasteur in Paris in 1917 discovered phage therapy which uses highly specific viruses, bacteriophages, which have been observed to be harmless for humans, to treat bacterial infections, including infections caused by superbugs. While there is considerable expertise on phage therapy in Canada and the USA at the research level medical phage therapy is not currently approved or practised in Canada; however, according to a letter signed by the former federal health minister phage therapy can be made available legally to Canadian patients under the Special Access Program of our Food & Drugs Act! Additionally, there are moral and ethical reasons for making phage therapy available in countries that are members of The World Medical Association which states: "In the treatment of a patient, where proven prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic methods do not exist or have been ineffective, the physician, with informed consent from the patient, must be free to use unproven or new prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic measures, if in the physician's judgement it offers hope of saving life."
A discussion of phage therapy is currently very timely, not only because too many patients are dying of superbug infections; but also because of the recent release of the Canadian film: Killer Cure: The Amazing Adventures of Bacteriophage and the June 2006 release of the book by Thomas Haeusler entitled, Viruses vs. Superbugs, a solution to the antibiotics crisis? ( see http://www.bacteriophagetherapy.info ). There is a record of an excellent questions-and-answers session on phage therapy with Dr. Roger Johnson of the Public Health Agency of Canada at http://meristem.com/topstories/ts06_08.html .

Further, the phage therapy file has dramatically changed because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended the US food additive regulations to provide for the safe use of a bacteriophage preparation on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products as an antimicrobial agent against Listeria monocytogenes (see http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/02f-0316-nfr0001.pdf ). An enlightening FDA questions-and-answers document can be found at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/opabacqa.html . Listeria causes an estimated 2,500 cases of mainly food borne infections in the USA annually and as many as 500 deaths; however, they ideas that ready-to-eat meat can be treated if contaminated with Listeria bacteria while a doctor could not get a pharmaceutical grade phage therapy product when faced with a patient suffering listeriosis strikes this author as absurd. Superbugs are everybody’s business because sooner or later everybody will be faced with an infection or know a relative or friend who will be suffering or dying with one. Withholding such treatment from patients when antibiotics are failing ought to be a crime; however, those who have the money, knowledge and time to travel when faced with an infection where antibiotics are failing may be able to get phage therapy treatment in Georgia , Europe (
http://www.phagetherapycenter.com ), Poland - http://www.aite.wroclaw.pl/phages/phages.html or more recently at the Wound Care Center, Lubbock, Texas ( http://www.woundcarecenter.net/ ) . A record of a trip to Georgia to get phage therapy treatment by UK citizens can be seen at http://www.relax-well.co.uk/news.html .

A recent paper in English from Poland entitled: "Phage therapy of staphylococcal infections (including MRSA) may be less expensive than antibiotics (2007)" could serve as a model for the introduction of phage therapy in North America since our laws appear similar to those described for Poland( the paper can be found at http://www.gangagen.com/newsroomframe.htm ).In Canada the official body counters tell us that "an estimated 220,000 patients who walk through the doors of hospitals each year suffer the unintended and often devastating consequences of an infection" and they also estimate that 8,000 to 12,000 Canadian patients die annually from such infections and I have read claims that a similar number of limb amputations are done to cure such infections. That means as many as 30 Canadians become victims of superbug infections each day.

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In the USA the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus seriously sickened more than 94,000 Americans in 2005 and almost 19,000 died, more than the 17,000 Americans who died of AIDS-related causes.

Yet the French-Canadian microbiologist, Felix d'Herelle, while working at the Institute Pasteur in Paris in 1917 discovered phage therapy which uses highly specific viruses, bacteriophages, which have been observed to be harmless for humans, to treat bacterial infections, including infections caused by superbugs. While there is considerable expertise on phage therapy in Canada and the USA at the research level medical phage therapy is not currently approved or practised in Canada; however, according to a letter signed by the former federal health minister phage therapy can be made available legally to Canadian patients under the Special Access Program of our Food & Drugs Act! Additionally, there are moral and ethical reasons for making phage therapy available in countries that are members of The World Medical Association which states: "In the treatment of a patient, where proven prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic methods do not exist or have been ineffective, the physician, with informed consent from the patient, must be free to use unproven or new prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic measures, if in the physician's judgement it offers hope of saving life."
A discussion of phage therapy is currently very timely, not only because too many patients are dying of superbug infections; but also because of the recent release of the Canadian film: Killer Cure: The Amazing Adventures of Bacteriophage and the June 2006 release of the book by Thomas Haeusler entitled, Viruses vs. Superbugs, a solution to the antibiotics crisis? ( see http://www.bacteriophagetherapy.info ). There is a record of an excellent questions-and-answers session on phage therapy with Dr. Roger Johnson of the Public Health Agency of Canada at http://meristem.com/topstories/ts06_08.html .

Further, the phage therapy file has dramatically changed because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended the US food additive regulations to provide for the safe use of a bacteriophage preparation on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products as an antimicrobial agent against Listeria monocytogenes (see http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/02f-0316-nfr0001.pdf ). An enlightening FDA questions-and-answers document can be found at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/opabacqa.html . Listeria causes an estimated 2,500 cases of mainly food borne infections in the USA annually and as many as 500 deaths; however, they ideas that ready-to-eat meat can be treated if contaminated with Listeria bacteria while a doctor could not get a pharmaceutical grade phage therapy product when faced with a patient suffering listeriosis strikes this author as absurd. Superbugs are everybody’s business because sooner or later everybody will be faced with an infection or know a relative or friend who will be suffering or dying with one. Withholding such treatment from patients when antibiotics are failing ought to be a crime; however, those who have the money, knowledge and time to travel when faced with an infection where antibiotics are failing may be able to get phage therapy treatment in Georgia , Europe (
http://www.phagetherapycenter.com ), Poland - http://www.aite.wroclaw.pl/phages/phages.html or more recently at the Wound Care Center, Lubbock, Texas ( http://www.woundcarecenter.net/ ) . A record of a trip to Georgia to get phage therapy treatment by UK citizens can be seen at http://www.relax-well.co.uk/news.html .

A recent paper in English from Poland entitled: "Phage therapy of staphylococcal infections (including MRSA) may be less expensive than antibiotics (2007)" could serve as a model for the introduction of phage therapy in North America since our laws appear similar to those described for Poland( the paper can be found at http://www.gangagen.com/newsroomframe.htm ).
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Retired public health regulator, microbiologist interested in phage therapy and the academics of Frankfurtian bullshit (Harry Frankfurt, 2005 On Bullshit) As Frankfurtian bullshit is generally produced by people who talk on subjects where they have (more...)
 

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Choosing to let patients with superbug infections die rather than phage them?