Welcome to a world where drugs don’t work – MSNBC March 31st, 2011
When Alexander Fleming discovered in 1928 the first antibiotic, penicillin, we believed that we had the tools necessary to beat bacteria. We understood that bacteria could develop resistance to antibiotics, but were quick to assume that scientists were always one step ahead of the game. Today, this is no longer the case. As this MSNBC article points out, antibiotic resistant superbugs have become a global problem, and we may be heading towards a pre-antibiotic era of medication where we will be unable to treat simple infections.
How did we get to this point? For many years now, we have been living in an era of antibiotic dependence. Considered “wonder drugs,” antibiotics are too often prescribed inappropriately by doctors, or are being used far more widely than for the treatment of sick patients. According to the US FDA, 29 million pounds of antibiotics are given to food-producing animals every year, accounting for ~ 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US. The more that people are exposed to these antibiotics, the higher the likelihood of them developing resistance and rendering these medications ineffective.
Perhaps most concerning is the fact that the antibiotic arsenal is dwindling. Many of the world’s top drug companies are no longer developing new antibiotics. In 1990, twenty large drug companies had strong antibiotic R & D portfolios. Today, this number has been reduced down to only two. It has been roughly 20 years since the last major antibiotic was developed, and scientists around the world are beginning to worry. This concern is enough to make the World Health Organization devote this year’s annual World Health Day to antibiotic resistance. Occurring on April 7th, the WHO will be calling for a global commitment towards raising awareness on antimicrobial resistance. Today, non-antibiotic solutions are key in safeguarding medications for the next generation. Don’t wait for your turn, get informed today. To read the full article, please click here.