Addressing a World of Resistance

During the past 70 years, we have become dependent on antibiotics. Each year, more than 25 million pounds of antibiotics are consumed annually, and half of all prescriptions are made with diagnostic uncertainty.  Seventy percent of the total antibiotics used, however, is destined for livestock in order to promote rapid growth. Antibiotics “have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs either less effective”1 or completely ineffective. People with antibiotic resistant infections are at greater risk of dying as a result of the infection and require much greater health care administration. Unfortunately for all of us, the primary battlegrounds of the war of the superbugs are the hospitals and health care institutions2 where health care workers themselves have become one of the primary vectors of transmission.  

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria - Source: Public Health Image Library (PHIL) and CDC

As antibiotic resistance rises around the world, this issue has become a major global concern. Tens of thousands of people die each year from resistant microorganisms at a time when there are few, if any, new drugs being developed to replace those that have been rendered ineffective through abuse and overuse.  Current estimates for time and costs of development of a new antibiotic exceed 10 years and $1 billion, an excessive hurdle  for most  pharmaceutical industry players. 

Antibiotic resistance is a crisis we can no longer afford. Cost related to hospital acquired infection in the US alone is thought to exceed $10-20 billion and affects millions of people annually.  No-one really knows the true extent of the problem.  The degree to which many of our most popular antibiotics have become reduced in effectiveness due to bacterial resistance is also not widely understood. There is still a great deal of ‘trial & error’ diagnosis and therapy taking place instead of matching the most appropriate, still-effective antibiotic to the specific bacterial infection in the patient. 

 Each one of us must play a part in addressing this world of resistance.  We must all commit to do our utmost on a community and individual basis to avoid the actions that have contributed to this antibiotic resistance crisis.  Here are my recommendations:

 1.  Resist the habit to reach for, or demand, antibiotics when dealing with flu-like symptoms

 2.  Resist the temptation to stop taking antibiotics midway through a prescribed dose

 3.  Resist poultry, pork and beef without certification that antibiotic-free feed was used

 4.  Resist long term prescriptions of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics

Sources: 

1. CDC  http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html;

2. CDC  http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html

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One Response to “Addressing a World of Resistance”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alicia Demirjian and MRSA aid, Ondine Bio. Ondine Bio said: New Ondine Blog Post: Addressing a World of Resistance – more than 25 million pounds of antibiotics are consumed annually http://ow.ly/3dWHX […]

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