What to do when the antibiotics we’ve trusted for decades are no longer effective against strains of resistant “Superbug” bacteria? This is the frightening situation Dr. Matt McCarthy confronts, both on paper and in his medical practice, in his new book Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic.
McCarthy does a masterful job of weaving the history behind antibiotics, the current surge of drug-resistant diseases, and stories of his own patients who are battling against time to find a cure. He also describes the shocking dilemma confronting pharmaceutical companies who actually face financial losses in developing new treatments for this problem. When McCarthy undertakes a clinical trial of a promising new drug, we get a front row seat to the sometimes thrilling, often disheartening developments both the doctor and his patients undergo as they hope for success. Clinical trials take time, with dozens of hoops to jump through before the drug can be given to patients, but his patients don’t have time.
Recently, McCarthy noted in a New York Times op-ed that antibiotic-resistant superbugs kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, with the number of qualified experts who know how to treat them dropping. Much like the pharmaceutical conundrum, another problem impacting the diagnosing of infectious diseases and development of new cures points to our insurance system and how it compensates those specialists.
Dr. McCarthy has already authored two US bestsellers, The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly and Odd Man Out. Superbugs can be frightening at times, but McCarthy’s devotion to his patients and to the task at hand is inspiring. This book opens your eyes to the complexities of medical research and treatment, and what is at stake if we don’t tackle those complexities and work toward solutions. I think Matt McCarthy’s presentation at the Book Festival on Saturday June 15 will be one of the most interesting and important events you can experience that weekend.