Monday, December 12, 2005

Ten years for acceptance of bacteria/stomach ulcer connection

Barry Marshall, a gutsy gulp changes medical science
Watching patients suffer drove Marshall nuts. He believed a simple cure was at hand: antibiotics. So one July day in 1984, he drank the germ, later named Helicobacter pylori. He quickly developed flulike symptoms. On the 14th day, a colleague examined his stomach lining and found the telltale inflammation that accompanies most ulcers. Marshall's immune system soon fought off the infection.

The medical community resisted. "People didn't know what to do with him, coming out and saying, 'Look, you guys are all bloody wrong,'" says Walter Pe terson, a University of Texas professor of medicine. Pharmaceutical firms loathed his idea. They had begun profiting from acid blockers–costly pills that could control ulcers. Now this outback upstart proposed a one-time course of antibiotics to cure most cases for $35.

Notice the ten year lag between discovery and implementation - and this when the suggested cure could do no harm.


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