According to a recent BBC article, the golden age of antibiotics is ending and there is not a pipeline of new antibiotics to combat the changing landscape of mutations known as ‘superbugs’ that occur. In modern times, we have used antibiotics in blanketing prescriptions and have gone so far as to treat our livestock with the drugs that were deemed unfit for us. This overuse creates resistant pathogens also known as multidrug resistant or “superbugs.” Below, we will dive into 3 ways that we could send ourselves back into a pre-antibiotic era due to our stagnation of the aggressive research that was carried out in years past. Diseases we thought were curable and under control have since resurfaced by mutating and becoming resistant to the antibiotics we have created. The dwindling pharmaceutical companies working on antibiotics have let these infectious diseases show in adaptive strains across the world.
Misuse and overuse of antibiotics – Of course, in a perfect world anyone that is sick would have quarantined themselves while taking antibiotics to shield from the outside world. As we all know or have done before, we drag ourselves to work or go back once we deem ourselves healthy, even though we don’t know whether the antibiotics have fully decimated our sickness. On the other hand, in some countries antibiotics are sold over the counter and taken at free will, leading to the development of resistant strands.
Use of antibiotics in livestock feed – With the intention of keeping our food sources safe, the overuse of antibiotics can create multi-resistant strands through the methods of distribution and the use of antibiotics that have been deemed unfit for humans. In the United States, the joint efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration have found occasional animal-to-human spread of drug-resistant organisms. This overuse of antibiotics starts with adding antibiotics to the food and water of all livestock to make administration of the antibiotics easier.
Slowed Pipeline of antibiotic research – Since major efforts have slowed in the creation of new antibiotics to combat the ‘superbugs’ found increasingly across the world, the pipeline has dwindled and patients are left without options because of risks involved. As multi-resistant strands increase, this threat becomes even more of a looming threat to circumventing the antibiotics in place currently. Countries around the world are starting to take heed of these ‘superbugs.’ On December 12th, 2013 the Antibiotic Development to Advance Patient Treatment (ADAPT) Act was introduced to the U.S. Congress. This act lowers the barriers for pharmaceutical companies to create and have the FDA approve new antibiotics.
In the future, we hope that actions will be taken to properly administer these antibiotics to humans and animals and rekindle the research for new antibiotics. With those steps, we may be able to make those ‘superbugs’ that we are unable to control now manageable in the future. If these changes aren’t made, we may see our world revert to the age where a minor cut can be lethal.
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- The case for an antibiotics tax(washingtonpost.com)
- Big Ag’s big lie: Factory farms, your health and the new politics of antibiotics(salon.com)
- The F.D.A.’s Not-Really-Such-Good-News(nytimes.com)