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Roughly a half-million Americans contract streptococcal pneumonia each year, but now a 15-minute test recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration allows physicians to accurately diagnose the disease and prescribe the right medication before the patient leaves the office, potentially reducing the need for hospitalization.
The NOW(R) S. pneumonia Urinary Antigen Test developed by Binax in Portland, ME, is the first self-contained urine test for streptococcal pneumonia, a serious disease that often results in hospitalization in the elderly and the very young. Streptococcal pneumonia requires immediate and proper treatment with targeted antibiotics. However, until now, physicians often prescribed antibiotics without testing for the disease, or had to wait more than a week for test results that were sometimes inaccurate.
"Without having a definite diagnosis, doctors often hedged their bets by prescribing broad spectrum antibiotics to cover all conceivable pathogens, despite the fact that S. Pneumoniae is the more common cause of bacterial pneumonia," says Victor Yu, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. "Ironically, broad spectrum antibiotics often cover the other causes of pneumonia, but are not as potent against S. pneumoniae."
The rapid test allows physicians to prescribe the best antibiotic for the specific infection immediately, adds Yu. "The availability of this rapid test allows doctors to know immediately and with confidence that the cause of the pneumonia is S. pneumoniae. Then, doctors can select the best antibiotics and prescribe them right away. Immediate treatment with targeted antibiotics means that patients get relief faster and they are less likely to develop complications," says Yu. "Targeted antibiotics are also cheaper than broad spectrum antibiotics."
The use of targeted antibiotics also helps prevent the rise of antibiotic resistance, says Yu. "This can help curb the emergence of super bugs’ — or bacteria that are resistant to a number of antibiotics. These super bugs’ are now multiplying at an alarming rate worldwide, and this is becoming a major health problem as antibiotics are rapidly losing their effectiveness."
For more information, visit the Binax Web site at www.binax.com.