A new smart drug for treating diabetic wounds called TetraStem offers a lifeline for patients at risk of losing their limbs and possibly their lives.
United States-based foot and ankle surgeon, Dr Christopher Ayo Otiko, who was in Barbados this week to introduce what he called “liquid gold” to medical authorities, suggests it could lead to a major breakthrough for the island which is known as the amputation capital of the world.
“I have been a podiatrist since 1998 and one of the things I hate doing are amputations. I found out that Barbados is the amputation capital of the world and we have the technology that can stop that. What I want to do is to introduce the medication to Barbados and basically almost eliminate the unnecessary amputations due to diabetes,” Otiko told Health Today.
TetraStem is a liquid drug that combines Tetracycline, the active ingredient, with others to kill almost any infection, including flesh-eating bacteria.
“The success rate is literally 100 per cent. Almost every patient I have used this medication on has healed; I have only had one failure, and unfortunately not even God could have saved that person. It was too late by the time I saw him and then he didn’t follow up with the treatment like I asked him to. Every patient I have asked to use this drug and applied it three times a day until the wound heals has healed. These were patients that were literally a day from amputation and if they didn’t get an amputation almost two weeks from death. All of a sudden the wound started repairing and they didn’t need the amputation and they ended up living a happy life.”
According to Otiko, diabetes affects the feet in two ways. Firstly, high sugar levels kill the nerves so that if a patient steps on a rusty nail or something drops on their toes they don’t really feel it and as a result if they get a wound it is left untreated.
Secondly, diabetes affects circulation, so once a wound develops on the foot there’s no circulation and that can lead to gangrene.
“Once gangrene sets in it starts creeping up the body; if that happens the infection spreads all over the body and to save that person’s life you have to cut off the leg to stop the infection.”
Otiko stressed that Tetracycline has been around for a long time but they’ve just simply improved the technology behind the medication to ensure it works.
“The major difference is the delivery system. The delivery system is a bunch of inactive ingredients that have been paired to Tetracycline . . . it allows the medication to penetrate an inch deep within 15 minutes. There is no other liquid ointment on the market that can do that . In addition, it allows Tetracycline to kill not only chemically but physicially. Most antiobiotics kill in a chemical manner, so what the drug does, it kills the bacteria chemically and physically.”
He pointed out that the topical ointment is not only limited to treating diabetic wounds but it has been proven to cure a range of infections.
“We’ve had success with acne, eczema, psoriasis, toe nail fungus, almost any kind of skin infection. It was originally developed to treat diabetes foot wounds but we were having so much success, doctors came to us and asked if they could use it for several other things. It can be used for post surgical wounds.”
“I had a friend who came in after heart surgery with a big scar down his chest, I said try this ointment three times a day and when he went back to his heart surgeon I think two weeks later the heart surgeon almost had a heart attack. He asked, ‘What happened, where is the scar?’”
The drug’s seemingly miraculous healing properties are what led Financial Consultant Hal Martin to bring Otiko to Barbados to introduce the drug.
Martin was suffering from a painful wound on his right leg for a few months before Otiko treated him with TetraStem.
“I met him on April 15 and I saw his foot. At the time I didn’t tell him, but I said to myself, if this guy doesn’t get his foot treated then he’s going to lose his leg. So I said Hal ‘stop everything you’re doing and use this product three times a day’ and he was skeptical,” Otiko said.
“I took the thing home,” Martin said, “I applied it, put a piece of dry cloth over it on the Saturday, then the Sunday morning when I woke up I was in total shock. The wound had closed a bit. I said this is impossible.”
“So I continued to treat the wound and in about 14 days the wound was half closed. So I told him [Dr Otiko] that I have to get him to Barbados to save people’s feet,” he said.
TetraStem, which has been approved by the US- Federal Drug Administration (FDA), is presently an over-counter drug in America.
Otiko, who is hoping that the drug will soon be available to patients in Barbados, says in the intial stages, doctors will have to prescribe the ointment which will cost between $80 to $100 dollars.
He stressed there are no major side effects.
“The side effects are very minimal. Anybody with a side effect to Tetracycline will have a little bit of a rash but that’s one per cent of the population . . . . It’s very difficult to misuse the medication but keep it away from your eyes.”
Otiko says he has received a positive response from doctors here and most are anxious to get the drugs to help their patients.
“I think this drug should be in everybody’s medicine cabinets; the drug can be applied the first moment you see any kind of wound on your foot. Not just on your foot. It can be used for acne, psoriasis, eczema that sort of thing but for diabetics, the first moment you see any kind of wound, even if it is a little scrape because that’s how amputations usually start . . . put it on three times a day and it will prevent that cut from worsening to become an amputation.”