Ninth Annual Farness Lecture, Nov. 9
UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence and Arizona Respiratory Center Present 'Bad Bugs and No Drugs: A Public Health Crisis in the Making'
"Bad Bugs and No Drugs: A Public Health Crisis in the Making" is the subject of the ninth annual Farness Lecture, to be given by John E. Edwards, Jr., MD, on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. in University Medical Center's DuVal Auditorium.
Sponsored by the Valley Fever Center for Excellence (VFCE) and the Arizona Respiratory Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine as part of Valley Fever Awareness Week, Nov. 8-15, this lecture is free and open to the public. Following his presentation, Dr. Edwards will respond to questions from the audience. The Farness Lecture will be cablecast locally on Cox Ch. 76, on Comcast (in Tucson and Oro Valley) Ch. 76, ITFS Ch. 48 and Cox Sierra Vista, Ch. 7. It also will be available as a Webcast at http://video.biocom.arizona.edu
Dr. Edwards is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California Harbor Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America's (IDSA) Task Force on Antimicrobial Availability.
In a paper published in the spring 2004 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases*, the journal of IDSA, Dr. Edwards and his colleagues document a decline in the development of new antimicrobial agents over the past decade with no foreseeable reversal of this trend in the decade to come. They point out that public health problems that include drug-resistant skin and soft-tissue infections, community-acquired pneumonia, tuberculosis and bioterrorist threats of anthrax, plague or tularemia constitute a critical need for new antimicrobial agents. Although infections worldwide increasingly are caused by microbes that are resistant to many, if not all, available antibiotics, pharmaceutical companies are developing virtually no new antibiotics.
IDSA appeared before the U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 6, urging Congress to extend the scope of existing legislation beyond "bioterror" to apply new incentives broadly to cover drugs, vaccines and diagnostics needed to treat all areas of infectious diseases, but particularly for antibiotics to treat antibiotic-resistant organisms. The testimony can be reviewed online at www.idsociety.org/Template.cfm?Section=Home
Raymond Woosley, MD, PhD, UAHSC vice president and organizer of the efforts in Arizona to create the Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development, says that Dr. Edwards' message is another signal that there is a crisis in the pharmaceutical industry that is threatening the availability of new medications for serious illnesses. He adds that this is an excellent example of why the UA, SRI International and the FDA have joined forces to create the new Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development in Tucson.
John N. Galgiani, MD, director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence, comments on the relevance of Dr. Edwards' topic to Coccidioides species, the soil-borne fungi that cause Valley Fever, noting that even fewer antifungals are being developed than anti-infectives in general. "It seems like now's the time to find ways to reverse this trend before doctors will simply run out of antibiotics to treat their patients," says Dr. Galgiani.
Each year, approximately 100,000 people contract Valley Fever in Arizona; typically, 30,000 of those become ill with the infection, some of them seriously so. Last year, a reported 2,695 Arizonans, most from Maricopa County, sought diagnosis and were treated for Valley Fever. Twenty-four died of the disease. Reported cases to the state this year are greater than in all previous years.
Through Valley Fever Awareness Week, the state of Arizona recognizes an increase in Valley Fever infections in Arizona and the need for education and outreach to reduce the seriousness of the disease. Gov. Janet Napolitano's proclamation of Valley Fever Awareness Week further acknowledges that Arizona is the focal point of quality clinical care and research for the disease.
In addition to the Farness Lecture, other events are scheduled in conjunction with Valley Fever Awareness Week. These include:
A presentation by Dr. Galgiani to the Paradise Valley Town Council that will illustrate the importance of the VFCE to the state's economic growth, 7 - 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at the Town of Paradise Valley Police Department, 6433 E. Lincoln Drive
A research conference at the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System patio conference room, 3601 S. 6th Ave., noon - 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12
A benefit performance of "Scrooge, the Christmas Musical, or Older but Miser," on Friday, Nov. 12, at Tucson's Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd.
Just prior to Valley Fever Awareness Week, Dr. Galgiani will present lectures to the Arizona Respiratory Sciences Center on Tuesday, Nov. 2; the VA Management Conference on Wednesday, Nov. 4; and the Geriatrics Society on Saturday, Nov. 6.
*"Trends in Antimicrobial Drug Development: Implications for the Future" can be reviewed in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 38, pp. 1,279-1,286.