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Antibiotic selection and resistance issues with fluoroquinolones and doxycycline against bioterrorism agents.

Pharmacotherapy 2006 January
Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Yersinia pestis (plague), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), Coxiella burnetti (Q fever), and Brucella sp (brucellosis) are all potential bioterrorism agents. Their known virulence, potential lethality, and ability to develop resistance to known antibiotic treatments make these pathogens particularly dangerous. We reviewed the scientific literature by searching MEDLINE databases and published abstracts from the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and the Infectious Diseases Society of America from 1989-2005 for studies of each of these biologic agents with the specific aim of examining whether doxycycline or a fluoroquinolone should be stockpiled for mass-scale postexposure prophylaxis. An evidence-based approach was used to determine whether doxycycline or fluoroquinolones were efficacious (both in vitro and in vivo) against these biologic agents and to examine these drugs' respective susceptibility patterns and differences in cost, based on available data. Little published data are available on these pathogens, and much of the data are from studies that used older strains obtained from patient or animal sources in outbreaks decades ago. Doxycycline appears to show comparable minimum inhibitory concentrations to those of the fluoroquinolone class in most clinical and in vitro studies, perhaps with the exception of inhalation plague. Studies also suggest that development of antibiotic resistance is less likely to occur with doxycycline. Doxycycline is several-fold less expensive than most fluoroquinolones and appears to have similar efficacy in most scenarios based on clinical case studies and established Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (formerly known as the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards) breakpoints for staphylococci. Therefore, doxycycline should be considered as a first-line antibiotic in the management of bioterrorism agents.

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