I think everyone has heard about antibiotic resistant bacteria. This is bacteria that, through the years (which is thousands or millions of bacteria generations) have grown resistant to common antibiotics; predominantly through the misuse of antibiotics. Bacteria, just like all living creatures are constantly evolving, just really, really fast compared to higher plants and animals. The goal of evolution is survival. For bacteria to survive, they need to develop a resistance to the things that kill it, antibiotics. Bacteria are very promiscuous, ready to exchange DNA with any bacteria they encounter, to get an upper edge on anything that will ensure survival. I think that everyone reading this agrees, your personal survival is extremely important and it is important to bacteria.
Some strains are so nasty, methicillin or artemisinin (for malaria), won’t knock them down. These are incredibly potent antibiotics. The strongest approved antibiotics on the market. At the end of the day, without an arsenal of antibiotics, we are back in the Medicinal Dark Ages.
Media is abuzz about this. All the major global news and press, Twitter, blogs and TV. How did we get into this inevitable predicament?
- Feeding livestock antibiotics so a large population and live in too small a space.
- Prescribing antibiotics to people with a sickness for which it won’t work.
- People not using antibiotics the way they were directed, that is, not finishing the entire course as directed.
- Not perceived as profitable to drug companies, so little research is done. Few potential new antibiotics in the development pipeline. From a business perspective, which makes more profit: a cardiac medication that many people take for years or an antibiotic that relatively few people take for a week.
- The FDA and its European counterpart for setting the bar high for approval. I am not proposing taking unnecessary risks for drug approval, but the risks must be reasonable compared the reward.
- There are surely more than these!
Google “antibiotic resistant bacteria”, you’ll get a bewildering number of hits.
Here are a few good links to get you started:
Antibiotic resistance: Bacteria are winning the war http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/apr/07/antibiotic-resistance-bacteria?CMP=twt_fd
WHO warns of drugs misuse weakens fight against diseases http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/us-antibiotics-idUSTRE7361QR20110407
SPECIAL REPORT: When the drugs don’t work. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/us-specialreport-drugs-idUSTRE7360WP20110407
This is serious! I know I don’t want to live in a world where bacteria win, but to me it looks like the bacteria will win this war!
© Gloria A. Rood, 2011
© Grove Ridge Consulting, 2011