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New medicine funded to combat multi-resistant infections

Embargoed to 0600 Friday 31 October

Media release

New medicine funded to combat multi-resistant infections

New Zealand hospitals are about to strengthen their defences against multi-resistant bacterial infections with the funding of a new antibiotic.

From 1 November PHARMAC will add ceftaroline fosamil to the list of medicines funded in DHB hospitals. Ceftaroline is a fifth-generation cephalosporin, an updated version of a long line of effective anti-bacterials. It will be particularly targeted at people exposed to multi-resistant strains of bacterial infections, more commonly referred to as `superbugs’.

Deputy Medical Director Dr Dilky Rasiah says the listing of ceftaroline is timely, given the high level of concern internationally around growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Dr Rasiah says ceftaroline will be preserved as a `last-line’ defence against multi-resistant organisms, to help protect its usefulness.

“Multi-resistant bacteria are now a reality, so it’s important that we have more tools at our disposal to deal with them,” she says. “We continue to have an effective range of antibiotics, but every so often we encounter a strain or type of bacteria that requires several different types of antibiotic to treat it, or people can find it hard to take other antibiotics.”

“It’s a bit like links in a chain, and what we are doing with this decision is adding another link to that chain.”

“As well as making funding available, part of PHARMAC’s role is in antimicrobial stewardship – working alongside other agencies and health professionals to ensure that these important medicines continue to be effective for the future.”

“That is why we are being very careful with how this new option will be targeted.”

In New Zealand, rates of multi drug-resistant infections are monitored through ESR. Data on rates of infection in New Zealand are published on the ESR website.

ESR Clinical Microbiologist Dr Deborah Williamson says it is important New Zealand confronts the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, one of the biggest man-made public health threats of modern times.

"New Zealand is fortunate to have a coordinated programme of antimicrobial resistance surveillance that is based at ESR.

"We have recently been involved in antimicrobial susceptibility testing of ceftaroline in New Zealand, and believe it will be a valuable new drug," Dr Williamson says.


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