As a primary care internist, I recognize the escalating problem of antibiotic resistance that David E. Hoffman described in his Oct. 22 op-ed, “Waking up to a medical ‘nightmare.’ ” I agree in general with his goals of national data retrieval, improved stewardship of existing antibiotics and development of new antibiotics.
We should be careful, however, not to frame the issue as a “nightmare” requiring new “wonder drugs,” which can distract us from the root causes of antibiotic resistance, including their overuse and inappropriate use. When antibiotic resistance is framed as a crisis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pushed by the pharmaceutical industry to fast-track new antibiotics, releasing them on the public without adequate clinical trials.
We must remember that patients can be harmed by drugs just as they can be harmed by microbes. We must focus on halting the progression of antibiotic resistance, while protecting the regulatory function of the FDA in ensuring safety and efficacy in new drug development.
Lisa Plymate, Seattle
The writer is co-chair of the FDA task force for the National Physicians Alliance.