The World’s Penicillin Problem


This project will investigate a long worldwide shortage of penicillin, specifically the injectable form of the antibiotic Benzathine Penicillin G, looking at the causes & consequences for those who need this life-saving medication.

  • €20,000 Budget in Euros
  • 2017 Final release date
  • 8 Round winner
  • 5 Locations
  • 4 Durations in months

People are facing a shortage of Benzathine Penicillin G (BPG) around the globe - in both developing and developed nations alike. This can have dire consequences as it is the primary treatment for syphilis and of rheumatic heart disease - illnesses that affect millions of people worldwide.

Despite the reduction of its use over the past decades, BPG is still the most efficient drug to treat syphilis, especially among pregnant women, who need the drug to avoid mother-to-child transmission and prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Without treatment, a quarter of pregnancies will end in pregnancy loss or stillbirth, according to estimates by the World Health Organization. Benzathine Penicillin G is also the first-line drug for victims of rheumatic heart disease, who need the medicine to control the disease.

The project will look into the supply chain of this drug to understand what is leading to shortages; into the victims who can't access this drug; and will examine what are the risks of antibiotic resistance associated with the misuse of drugs used as penicillin substitutes.

Picture by Heudes Regis.

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