Paterson Evening News: May 6, 1946
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Streptomycin Drug Free to Patients
NEW YORK, May 6–No patient who receives streptomycin, the rare drug for which such great success in the treatment of diseases is predicted, is permitted to pay for it, it has been announced by the government board which controls its use.
Dr. Chester S. Keefer, of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Chemotherapeutics and Other Agents of the National Research Council, described the method by which the drug is handled in the current issue of "The Journal of the American Medical Association."
"No patient who receives it may pay for it," Dr. Keefer wrote. "No physician is charged for it."
The official statement described in detail the new method of handling streptomycin, which was put into effect March 1 when the scarcity of the drug and the ever mounting demand for it made rigid control necessary.
Distributed by CPA
Eleven chemical and pharmaceutical houses manufacture streptomycin. All production is turned over by the Civilian Production Administration to the Army, Navy, United States Public Health Service, Veterans Administration and the National Research Council.
Only the last named organization is permitted to make the drug available to the public. This is done along careful lines laid out by an overall research policy, so that the use and effects of the drugs may be studied. A civilian physician who wishes to use the drug must apply to the committee, setting forth the reason for his need, and its extent.
When the committee is satisfied that the streptomycin will be advantageously used, it turns it over to the physician without charge. After he has completed his work, he must return any unused portion and report on his results.
All streptomycin offered for sale is, therefore, black-market streptomycin. For any proper use, it is free.
In his statement, Dr. Keefer listed the diseases for which the drug may be allotted as follows: Gram negative bacillary infections of the genito-urinary tract resistant to the soulfonamides; gram negative bacillary infections with bacteremia; Hemophilus influenza infections, including meningitis, pneumonia, middle-ear disease and laryngotrachcitis; Friedlander's bacillus pneumonia; typhoid; Salmonella infections (Paratyphoid); acute brucellosis with bacteremia; tularemia and bacterial endocardith caused by gram negative bacilli.
Dr. Keefer listed also some of the diseases for which streptomycin has been sought, but for which his committee will not, under any conditions, allot the drug, since it is not effective. They are idiopathic ulcerative colitis; lupus erythematosis acutus disseminatus; leukemia; cancer; fever of unknown cause; rheumatic fever and rheumatoid arthritis.
Tuberculosis research with the drug is being continued, but the drug is allotted only for those cases that were under treatment before March 1. "A broader program for the study of tuberculosis is planned," Dr. Keefer wrote, "but it cannot be undertaken at the present time because of inadequate supplies of streptomycin."
The committee includes, besides Dr. Keefer, Dr. John S. Lockwood and Dr. Francis G. Blake, of the Yale University School of Medicine; Dr. E. K. Marshall, Jr., and Dr. Perrin H. Long, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Dr. W. Barry Wood, Jr., of St. Louis.