Who Got $4 Million From Pfizer for MRSA Treatments?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, is a skin-eating bacteria that is resistant to many common antibiotics. MRSA can be transmitted almost anywhere, but it is particularly common in places where there are a lot of people and a lot of potential for contact. These places include hopsitals, gyms, military barracks, and schools. Untreated, MRSA has the potential to be life-threatening. It begins as a skin irritation, spreads into vital organs, and eventually causes sepsis — an infection throughout the body. And once you get sepsis, you have a 25% chance of dying. Not good odds, especially since MRSA often can be prevented with simple precautions such as washing your hands. (Although, washing your hands doesn't prevent someone from giving you MRSA while they're treating your open wound, say. So careful about who you let touch your open wounds!)

The health-care community, which is disproportionately affected by MRSA, has taken steps to decrease its spread in medical settings, and this effort has been successful. You're much less likely to get MRSA at the doctor's office today than you were 10 years ago.

But outside of the medical community, MRSA infections are as common as ever. And with the consequences of untreated MRSA being so dire, there's an obvious public health problem in letting MRSA spread within a country where quick and affordable health care is notoriously unavailable.

Enter the Patient Access Network Foundation (PANF), whose mission is to help people with chronic illnesses but not the means for treatment obtain quality health care. Assisted by a $4 million grant from the Pfizer Foundation, PANF is pledging up to $2,000 a year for individual low-income patients in need of treatment for MRSA. (See Pfizer Foundation: Grants for Disease.) Patients also have the option of applying for a second grant if they require additional monetary support.

Pfizer funds a lot of organizations in the health-care world, making small, midsize, and large grants. Here's the list of Pfizer's domestic grants from 2012. You'll notice it's rather long.

Health-care-oriented nonprofits like PANF can apply for Pfizer funding at four points during the year. But Pfizer, with assets of more than $205 million, also funds different types of health-focused entities, including medical schools, medical research facilities, and groups generally engaged in advancing medical science and promoting wellness in their field/communities.