《TAIPEI TIMES》 Taiwan not short of lung bacteria drugs, FDA says
FDA medicinal product division chief Yang Bo-wen speak at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA
COMMON PATHOGEN: Responding to concerns about a spike in illnesses such as ‘Mycoplasma pneumoniae’ in China, the agency said more drugs are being acquired
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
Taiwan has enough of the drugs used to treat Mycoplasma pneumoniae, as it increased imports of a brand-name drug last month and expanded domestic production of generic drugs, the Food and Drug Administration （FDA） said yesterday.
As some parts of China are seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses, reportedly caused by multiple pathogens, including the M. pneumoniae bacteria, many Taiwanese media outlets have reported public concerns about children catching M. pneumoniae.
M. pneumoniae is a common bacterial respiratory tract pathogen that causes infections the whole year round in Taiwan, Centers for Disease Control （CDC） Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞） said on Tuesday evening, adding that it mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets.
A 2011-2012 survey by the Taiwan Pediatric Infectious Diseases Alliance found that M. pneumoniae was the second-most common pathogen that caused community-acquired pneumonia in children, he said, adding that M. pneumoniae infections are most common in children aged five or older.
The epidemiology of M. pneumoniae has not changed much in 10 years, and most infections are mild, usually resolve on their own and rarely require hospitalization, Lo said.
While historical trends show that M. pneumoniae infections tend to peak every three to seven years, there has not been a significant rise in cases so far this year, he said.
One antibiotic used to treat M. pneumoniae infections in children is azithromycin powder for oral suspension, FDA Deputy Director Cheng Hwei-fang （陳惠芳） said yesterday.
The drug is used to treat bacterial infections of the respiratory tract, skin and soft tissue, as well as otitis media and sexually transmitted diseases, she said, adding that there are two valid drug permits in Taiwan.
An average of 4,680 bottles of azithromycin were used each month last year, but the average monthly usage increased to 8,050 bottles this year, so although 1.3 times more of the drug was imported, supply did not meet demand, she said,
The situation was reported in August, and a large amount of the drug was imported last month, Cheng said, adding that there are about 27,000 bottles in stock, and domestic production of a generic version of the drug has been increased by two to three times.
There are seven valid drug permits in Taiwan for azithromycin oral tablets for adults, and while the average usage is approximately 200,000 tablets per month, there are about 1.3 million tablets in stock — enough to last five to six months — and there are plans to import or manufacture about 2 million tablets next month, so there should be no shortage, she said.
FDA Medicinal Product Division head Yang Bo-wen （楊博文） said in preparation for a likely increase in infections due to Taiwan lifting its COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year and because many respiratory infectious diseases peak in autumn and winter, the FDA on Aug. 2 told drugmakers with permits for antibiotics, drugs for treating respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal tract infections, antipyretics, and analgesics to ensure a stable supply of the products.