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New antibiotic to fight "superbugs" in New Zealand


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 5 March 2002

New antibiotic to fight "superbugs" in New Zealand

A new antibiotic - heralded as one of the greatest breakthroughs in the fight against "superbugs" or MRSA - is now available to help New Zealand specialists combat serious antibiotic-resistant infections.

Zyvox, launched today in New Zealand by Pharmacia, comes at a time when antimicrobial resistance in New Zealand hospitals is on the increase, with ongoing MSRA infection outbreaks and VRE infections.

Ministry of Health figures show there has been a 72.6 per cent increase in the number of infections involving the multi-resistant "super bug" MRSA with 1,731 cases reported in 2001 compared with 1003 cases in 20001.

The launch of Zyvox is welcomed by infectious disease physician Katy Godfrey of Middlemore Hospital who says MRSA infections are a nationwide issue for our public hospitals, private hospitals and rest homes.

"MRSA infections are most prevalent in our largest centres but outbreaks have occurred throughout New Zealand. We have a real problem and it is great to have such an effective drug as Zyvox to help us fight serious hospital acquired infections. It is not an overstatement to say that this drug will help to save lives," says Katy Godfrey.

Pharmacia New Zealand is working closely with infectious disease specialists and microbiologists to ensure appropriate use of the antibiotic.

"Zyvox is the most significant development in the war against antibiotic resistance in 30 years with a unique mode of action that makes cross resistance unlikely," said Pharmacia New Zealand Medical Director, Edward Watson.

He says Pharmacia will work vigilantly and responsibly with hospital specialists to ensure this breakthrough antibiotic is used appropriately in order to maintain its long-term efficacy in the fight against infection.

Zyvox is a synthetic antimicrobial indicated for the treatment of infections including Streptococci, Staphylococci and Enterococci including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). It inhibits the initiation of bacterial protein synthesis, making cross-resistance with other antibiotics unlikely.

Zyvox is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and its efficacy has been proven in large, well-controlled studies of more than 4,000 patients with hospital and community acquired infections. Zyvox is registered in New Zealand and is now commercially available (from 28 February 2002).

Zyvox was launched in Australia at the Australian Society of Antimicrobials Conference in Sydney. In Australia superbugs are believed to contribute to 7000 deaths per year2.

Ends

For more information contact: Dr Edward Watson Shannon Huse Pharmacia PPR Phone: 09 580 4300 09 979 2011 or 029 289 8944

Dr Katy Godfrey Middlemore Hospital Phone: 09 276 0044 extn 7858
1. Ministry of Health press statement on ministry website - http://www.moh.govt.nz
2. National surveillance of health care associated infections in Australia prepared by the Australian Infection Control Association, 2001.

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