Thursday, May 19, 2016

Antibiotic Apocalypse

A terrible future could be on the horizon, a future which takes one of the greatest tools of medicine out of the hands of doctors. A simple cut to your finger could leave you fighting for your life. Luck will play a bigger role in your future than any doctor could. It's a future without antibiotics.

This blog has posted on the problems of over-use of antibiotics and the increasing resistance to them more than a few times ( for example, here , here  and here, plus elsewhere.)

A new report has come about the concerns that a course of antibiotics will soon be an ineffective remedy. The battle against infections that are resistant to drugs is one the world is losing rapidly and has been described as "as big a risk as terrorism". The problem is that we are simply not developing enough new antibiotics and we are wasting the ones we have.

Superbugs will kill someone every three seconds by 2050 unless the world acts now, the report says. A plan for preventing medicine "being cast back into the dark ages" requires billions of dollars of investment. Some are concerned that the global review does not go far enough. The situation will get only worse with 10 million people predicted to die every year from resistant infections by 2050.

Lord Jim O'Neill, the economist, told the BBC: "We need to inform in different ways, all over the world, why it's crucial we stop treating our antibiotics like sweets. If we don't solve the problem we are heading to the dark ages, we will have a lot of people dying. We have made some pretty challenging recommendations which require everybody to get out of the comfort zone, because if we don't then we aren't going to be able to solve this problem."

There has not been a new class of antibiotics discovered since the 1980s. A new antibiotic would be kept on the shelf for use in emergencies so a company could never make back costs and thus create a profit.

Dr Grania Brigden, from the charity Médecins Sans Frontières, said: "This report is an important first step in addressing this broad market failure, it does not go far enough." Dr Brigden added: "The O'Neill report proposes considerable new funding to overcome the failures of pharmaceutical research and development, but the proposals do not necessarily ensure access to either existing tools or emerging new products. Instead, in some cases, the report's solution is simply to subsidise higher prices rather than trying to overcome them."

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