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经济学人:制药商和抗生素

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Drugmakers and antibiotics

制药商和抗生素
The path of least resistance
最省事的办法
Governments reckon that drug firms' research efforts need a shot in the arm
政府认为需要鼓励药企的研发工作
A GROWING worry in medicine is bugs' increasing resistance to antibiotics.
随着细菌对抗生素的抵抗性越来越强,人们对药物效用的担忧与日俱增。
At AstraZeneca's research centre near Boston, scientists toil to find new weapons.
在波士顿附近的阿斯利康研究中心里,科学家们费力地寻找着对付细菌的新武器。
Machines screen thousands of drugs each year, robotic arms nimbly handling plates of compounds to test their effect on bacteria.
研究所里每年仪器筛查成千上万的药物,用灵活的机械手测试众多药物成分对细菌的作用。
But progress is slow.
可是进程却很缓慢。
It is not our hottest area in terms of commercial return, admits Martin Mackay, AstraZeneca's research and development chief.
阿斯利康研究和发展组组长马丁·麦基承认道:从商业收益来看,研制抗生素并不是最赚钱的。
Help is on the way.
援助很快就要来了。
On May 8th the European Commission and Europe's pharmaceutical association gave details of a plan to boost antibiotics research by up to 590m.
五月八号,欧洲委员会和欧洲制药协会公布了一份援助计划的详细内容,这个计划的资助金额高达五亿九千万欧元,旨在鼓励抗生素的研发。
The same day in America, a congressional committee weighed measures with a similar goal.
就在同一天,美国国会也就着相似的目标权衡相关措施。
The attention is welcome. Its effect is less clear.
政府的关注值得肯定。但其结果就不太清楚了。
Drug-resistant bacteria cost Europe alone about 1.5 billion a year in health costs and lost productivity.
光是欧洲,每年因对付抗药性细菌而产生的医疗费用及生产力损失就达15亿欧元左右,
But firms have been slow to create new antibiotics.
而制药公司新抗生素的研发一直进展得很慢。
First, the science is tricky.
一是因为这门科学很是棘手。

Some bacteria have evolved to pump out the drugs that infiltrate their walls;

一些细菌已经进化到可以将渗入它们细胞壁的药物排出去,
other, Gram-negativebugs have an impenetrable outer membrane.
而其它革兰氏阴性的细菌都有着药物透不过的细胞外膜。
Second, clinical trials are arduous.
二是因为临床试验困难重重。
Firms struggle to recruit enough patients with rare bacterial infections.
公司招不到足够的被罕见细菌感染的病人。
Third, commercial prospects are grim.
三是因为抗生素的商业前景暗淡。
Patients take cholesterol drugs for life, but they usually take antibiotics for less than two weeks.
胆固醇药物需终身服用,而抗生素的服药期往往不到两周。
It is no wonder that Big Pharma has directed its attention elsewhere.
所以,大型制药公司将焦点转移到其他领域也就不足为奇了。
AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline are now the only big drugmakers with substantial antibiotics programmes.
制药界巨头中现在只有阿斯利康和葛兰素史克保留有耗资巨大的抗生素研发项目。
Between 1983 and 1992 American regulators approved 30 new antibiotics.
美国医药监管机构在1983年到1992年期间批准了30种新抗生素,
Since 2003 they have approved just seven.
而从2003年至今,仅批准了七种。
Governments are keen to change this.
政府急于改变这一现状。
In February Tetraphase, a small company near Boston, won a $67m contract from America's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for an antibiotic that might treat both anthrax outbreaks and serious infections in hospitals.
公司是一家位于波士顿附近的小公司,2月份时,它从美国生物医学高级研究发展局那里赢得了一份六千七百万美元的合同,研发一种抗生素,用于医院应对炭疽的突然爆发,治疗其他严重的细菌感染。
GSK also has a contract with BARDA to test an antibiotic for Gram-negative bacteria. However, the company recently suspended enrolments to its trial because of complications in some patients.
公司GSK和BARDA也签订了合同测试一种可抵抗革兰氏阴性细菌的抗生素,不过,由于一些病人出现并发症,最近该公司中止了试验的招募工作。
Seeking new ways to kill these vicious bugs is likely to be one of the main aims of the European Commission's new partnership.
寻找新方法来消灭这些危险细菌很有可能是欧洲委员会寻求新的合作关系的主要目的之一。
To boost research in America, Congress needs to renew a deal under which drugmakers pay fees to regulators for reviewing new treatments.
要鼓励抗生素的研发,美国国会应恢复监管机构审查新药物疗效,制药商付费的协议。
The mammoth bill now before congressmen also includes measures to encourage the search for new antibiotics.
现在,摆在国会议员们面前内容繁多的议案中还包括鼓励新抗生素研发的一系列措施。
It would extend antibiotics' patents by five years, and let some treatments for life-threatening diseases be marketed before the final stage of clinical trials, thereby reducing their development costs.
如果该议案通过,那抗生素的专利权期限将延长五年,而且一些可治疗危及生命的疾病的抗生素在临床试验的最后阶段之前可投放市场,以减少它们的开发成本。
Kevin Outterson of Boston University says the government might provide an even bigger boost by paying more for new antibiotics,
波士顿大学的凯文·奥特森认为政府可能会进一步刺激抗生素的研发,高价购买新抗生素,
but politicians are strongly allergic to spending more on health.
不过政治家们对于增加医疗健康开支都非常非常敏感。
It may be a decade before the European and American proposals produce an effective new antibiotic.
也许十年之后,欧洲和美国采取的措施会促使一种新的有效的抗生素的产生。
In the meantime, says David Payne, a research chief at GSK, the best sign of progress will be if other firms rejoin the fight against killer bugs.
与此同时,GSK的一名研究组组长说,其他公司也加入到这场对抗致命细菌的斗争中,这才是有进展的最好的征兆。

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advanced [əd'vɑ:nst]

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adj. 高级的,先进的

 
decade ['dekeid]

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n. 十年

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bacteria [bæk'tiəriə]

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n. (复数)细菌

 
infiltrate ['infiltreit]

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v. (使)渗透,(使)渗入

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pump [pʌmp]

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n. 泵,抽水机,打气筒,抽水,打气
v. 打

 
thereby ['ðɛə'bai]

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adv. 因此,从而

 
extend [iks'tend]

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v. 扩充,延伸,伸展,扩展

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antibiotic [.æntibai'ɔtik]

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adj. 抗菌的 n. 抗生素

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encourage [in'kʌridʒ]

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vt. 鼓励,促进,支持

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boost [bu:st]

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vt. 推进,提高,增加
n. 推进,增加

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