Science's Response to Antibiotics Resistance
September 22, 2009
Scientists' Responsibilities in the Antibiotics Resistance Crisis
In the first half of the 20th century, the majority of people in hospitals were plagued with bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, meningitis, typhoid fever, and syphilis, rather cancer and heart disease as it is the case today. However, by 1960s the discovery of antibiotics led medicine to victory over most bacterial infections. Antibiotics' success was so great that in 1969 the surgeon general of the United States declared that it was time to "close the book on infectious diseases."
Unfortunately, he was wrong. The same bacteria that we supposedly defeated are now back, but they are even stronger than before because they have acquired resistance to antibiotics. We ourselves have instigated their rapid evolution and acquisitions of resistance by misusing antibiotics as doctors, pharmacists, and patients.
Here are a number of ways in which antibiotics are misused:
1. Doctors wrongly diagnose a viral disease as a bacterial disease and unnecessarily prescribe antibiotics.
2. Patients think they should get antibiotics and would fight with doctors who try to prescribe an alternative, resulting in doctors prescribing antibiotics to avoid conflicts.
3. Patients do not commit to the entirety of the treatment.
4. Pharmaceuticals and hospitals profit from sales of these drugs, so prescriptions are encouraged.
5. Patients can purchase antibiotics online without a prescription, and use it at their own untrain discretion.
With so many factors contributing to the problem of antibiotics resistance, which factor should we devote our attention to most? Who does the responsibility fall to in fixing the problem? Is it the government's responsibility to educate the public about the consequences of the overusage of antibiotics. Is it the doctors' responsibilty to educate patient despite time restraints and potential conflict? Are the scientists who help produce and subsequently sell antibiotics responsible for preventing resistance by discouraging excessive use of it, and in turn lowering their profits?
Combating Antibiotic Resistance www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm092810.htm
Who is to blame for antibiotic overuse in China? www.interfax.cn/news/10790
Misuse of Antibiotic Creating Resistant TB www.voanews.com/english/Science/2009-08-25-voa9.cfm
Study Explores Antibiotic Misuse www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111162856.htm
Do your part for antibiotic resistance latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/09/do-your-part-for-antibiotic-resistance-dont-bother-with-a-prescription.html