Merck Animal Health’s New BRD Antibiotic Could Help Combat the Growing Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance has been on the rise over the past decade, particularly in relation to bacterial infections affecting cattle (bovine respiratory disease, or BRD) and swine (porcine respiratory disease). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be passed from animals to humans, causing infections that are difficult to treat.

What is the new Merck antibiotic?
The newly announced antibiotic, meropenem/difloxacin hydrochloride, is a combination product that is indicated for treatment in cattle and swine when treating respiratory diseases caused by bacteria susceptible to both meropenem and difloxacin. It combines MERREM I.V., a 4th generation cephalosporin antibiotic with DIFLUCAN, a fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibacterial. Merrem IV has demonstrated efficacy against gram-positive and gram-negative organisms including Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter cloacae, Pasteurella multocida and Mycoplasma bovis. DiFlucan has demonstrated efficacy against many species of Gram-positive cocci such as Staphylococcus aureus, S.

How will it help fight antibiotic resistance?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that Brucillin® is only effective against bacterial organisms, such as bacteria or protozoa. It will not work on viral infections like influenza or other viruses. Moreover, it is important to use antibiotics responsibly because indiscriminate antibiotic use can create more problems than it solves by allowing certain pathogens to develop immunity in animals and by promoting resistance in livestock. The FDA has placed a special focus on antibiotic-resistant foodborne diseases, including Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7, which are transmitted through contaminated food products from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This new medication could be used to treat these types of infections when all other options have been exhausted.

What are some other ways we can stop antibiotic resistance?
There are some ways you can help fight antibiotic resistance. We do not have to lose ground in fighting disease, but we must act now! Here are some suggestions: 1) Purchase meat and milk from animals that have been treated with antibiotics, if it fits within your diet/lifestyle (ex: purchasing organic milk). These animals are raised on a farm where antibiotics are used on every animal, but for non-therapeutic reasons—for example, to promote growth or as a preventive measure against illness. 2) Eat less meat; there is evidence to suggest that consuming less red meat will reduce our exposure to antibiotics. 3) Don’t demand antibiotics when you go to see your doctor; doctors often prescribe them when they aren’t necessary.

Where are we going from here?
Despite being prescribed appropriately, antibiotic resistance is still an issue. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), we’re facing a looming crisis in terms of antibiotic resistance. In fact, WHO estimated that 10 million people die each year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and that number could rise to more than 20 million by 2050 if current trends continue. At Merck Animal Health, we’re trying to tackle the problem head on with our new beta-lactam ring polymer (BRD) technology. This exciting innovation was developed through collaboration between scientists at Merck Animal Health and researchers at Texas A&M University, who were looking for a way to address antimicrobial resistance without sacrificing efficacy. They identified a promising molecule and worked together to develop it into something even better: a polymer that can be used as part of injectable antibiotics. We are excited about what it might mean for veterinarians working every day to protect their patients from infections—and we’re hopeful that it will help contribute to fighting antimicrobial resistance.

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