Syphilis Surge: Shortage of vital drug raises risks among newborns

A new born baby | Credits: Getty Images
A new born baby | Credits: Getty Images

United States: The cases of syphilis are witnessing a surge in the United States, according to health experts. The experts have expressed concern related to this surge because of the declining numbers of the drugs essential to fight against the disease, according to the nation’s STD specialists.

According to HealthDay News, a survey was conducted by the National Coalition of STD Directors in November – which concluded that approximately 46 percent of the sexual health clinics have failed to order the drug for the treatment of disease – Bicillin L-A because of its unavailability.

Bicillin L-A

Medical experts have suggested that Bicillin L-A is a form of penicillin. The drug is utilized to treat small babies who are infected with congenital syphilis. It is to be noted that the newborns get infected to the infection from their infected mothers. The drug is being manufactured by Pfizer Inc.

Bicillin L-A

It is to be noted that Bicillin L-A shows quick results against the syphilis bacterium. According to the reports, it is the only treatment which is approved for pregnant women with syphilis. In addition to this, it is the first-line therapy for patients infected with syphilis, as per the reports published by HealthDay News.

The developer, Pfizer Inc., warned the US Food and Drug Administration about the shortage of the drug and predicted that it may end by the middle of next year (2024).

An early alarm in November

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention earlier in November warned the general public about the increasing number of diseases among newborn children in the United States. According to the Centre, the rates in the United States have increased by ten times between 2012 and 2022.

As per the stats shared by the CDC, last year, as many as 3,700 US babies were born affected with syphilis.

While emphasizing the problems caused by severe syphilis, the March of Dimes noted that “If not treated right away, congenital syphilis can cause problems for your baby later in life.” It furthermore underscored that the problems that can be caused are paralysis or seizures, deformities of bones and teeth, as well as problems in the development of vision and hearing.

Another survey for Bicillin L-A

In addition to this, another survey outlined that the United States has been facing a short supply of the Bicillin L-A. In early November, the survey was sent to around 136 state and local health departments and 151 sexual health clinics.

Pregnant woman | Credits: Google Images

The findings of the same are as follows:

  • As many as 45 percent of the clinics across the United States mentioned that they failed to get Bicillin L-A. The stats showed an increase of 40 percent in clinics as compared to the prior survey conducted in August.
  • While emphasizing the surge of infection, more than 68 percent of the health departments warned that this upcoming possible shortage may result in an increase in syphilis cases across the nation.
  • Around 13 different states and one Indian Health Services agency underlined that they registered only one case of an infected pregnant woman – who failed to receive Bicillin L-A.

Alternative for Bicillin L-A

Medical experts have suggested that in case of unavailability, an infected person can use a second-line treatment – doxycycline. However, it is not majorly advised because the treatment is time-consuming and can cause severe side effects.

According to the reports by some of the surveys, approximately 36 percent of medical clinics mentioned that there were patients who failed to complete their course with doxycycline.