NTM News Confronts Big Pharma Influence Over Standard Treatment of Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria

NTM News, an online news aggregator, presents information and studies about nontuberculosis mycobacteria, challenges the use of standard antimicrobial chemotherapy, and questions the connection of treatment recommendations to the influence of drug makers.

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Fernandina Beach, FL (PRWEB) July 16, 2012

NTMnews.com is a new, online news aggregator presenting the latest developments and scientific studies to help people diagnosed with nontuberculosis mycobacteria—also known as NTM—cope with a devastating, chronic disease. The website concentrates a wealth of information in one place and challenges standard treatment regimens with the goal to empower NTM patients to regain control of their health.

Symptoms and disease progression of NTM often resembles classic pulmonary tuberculosis. There's usually productive cough, bleeding from the lungs, and dramatic weight loss. Unlike tuberculosis, NTM is not contagious. Also referred to as "atypical mycobacteria" or "environmental mycobacteria," it is often acquired from exposure to contaminated water sources: shower heads or flood-damaged, mold-infested buildings are two examples. A healthy immune system will usually stop any chance of infection, but not always. Those with hypersensitivity (for example, to molds or other substances) or with lowered or compromised immunity are especially at risk.

NTM News editor Victoria Oldham spent many months researching the information for the website after her husband and coeditor, Chuck Oldham, faced a personal and life-changing experience with NTM disease. He discontinued conventional treatment after discovering that some major studies showed the drugs used on him could possibly prevent the mycobacteria from being killed. Using an alternative program that includes bioactive compounds and supplements known to boost immunity, he's now well on the road to recovery.

Standard treatment involves a cocktail of potentially toxic, long-term antibiotics, even if it's a known antibiotic-resistant strain of mycobacteria, such as M. abscessus. Infectious disease specialists admit that antibiotic treatment for this kind of mycobacteria does not offer a cure, yet they continue to recommend it. Medical costs can easily exceed $80,000 for four months of therapy—and that's just the beginning. Antimicrobial chemotherapy with multiple antibiotics is often continued for up to 2 years or longer, making the cost of treatment for NTM many times greater than the cost to treat tuberculosis. A patient's symptoms may substantially improve due to the potent anti-inflammatory effects of antibiotics and steroids, but after treatment, relapse is very common. Additionally, many patients find it impossible to continue with the medications as prescribed due to extreme side effects, which may include permanent loss of hearing and kidney or liver damage.

Victoria explains, "By focusing NTM information in one place, we hope to inspire scientific research for the development of safe, successful treatments. We need to let health care providers know there's an ethical dilemma in prescribing regimens that are prohibitively expensive, potentially dangerous and, worst of all, often don't work."

Other goals of NTM News include exploring and reporting on nontoxic, alternative, bioactive compounds supported by scientific studies and historical use. The website also hopes to raise awareness of potential adjunctive therapies that may protect against the toxic effects of traditional chemotherapy.

In addition to the website, a paid-subscription, monthly newsletter was created to deliver the latest information, including healthy recipes, patient interviews, and special reports.

Victoria adds, "Most of the bioactive compounds we're reporting on are related to fighting the world's most famous mycobacterial disease, tuberculosis. One-third of the world's population is affected by TB, so there's more experience there, and consequently, more studies to draw on. Fortunately, antimicrobial plant compounds don't discriminate against any one kind of mycobacteria, and I believe that's because certain plants have developed highly complex chemicals to protect them from destruction from predators of all kinds—including mycobacteria."

The NTM News special reports are expected to generate particular interest as well as controversy. Besides challenging the standard treatment regimen, the editors reveal information about NTM specialists who have had relationships with big pharmaceutical companies, government, and other commercial interests.

Chuck shares his outrage after accumulating a staggering hospital bill for several months on intravenous drugs that ultimately didn’t work: “We live in a culture where our medical institutions have degenerated in certain areas of practice, becoming nothing more than testing grounds for big pharma. From my own experience, I believe they’re primarily motivated by profit, and don’t care whether their medications lead to the patient’s recovery or not. In chronic diseases like NTM, where the recommended treatment can drag on for years and lead to enormous profits to pharmaceutical companies, the question must be asked: how far reaching is their influence on the medical doctors and institutions responsible for life and death decisions that affect millions of people?”

For more information about the NTM News website or the NTM Newsletter, visit http://ntmnews.com.


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