Doctors in the US can’t get the drugs necessary to treat parasitic infections because drug manufacturers have stopped making them.
According to the drug makers, manufacturing these drugs is no longer cost effective. This has left doctors without the resources to treat sometimes serious infections. The lack of available drugs was first noted last summer by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when doctors reported having trouble obtaining praziquantel for cases of schistosomiasis. Investigators found that the sole producer had stopped production. Further investigation showed that many other important compounds had also been quietly withdrawn from the market, including quinacrine, for Giardia; diethylcarbamazine, for nematode and other worm infections; and niclosamide, for tapeworms.
Parasitic infections are on the rise due to lax hygiene, antibiotic and pesticide over use, and increased international travel. The CDC foresees that the US government will need to intercede and perhaps subsidise the manufacture of antiparasitic drugs to meet the new demand (Lancet, 2000; 356: 1581).