C/ “New superbugs could make UTIs fatal, not just uncomfortable”

Antibiotics

Slang :

  • Superbugs = antibiotic resistant microorganism
  • UTIs = Urinary tract infections

 

Antibiotics (anti “against”; bios “life) as some would know are tools that are used by medics, consumers, animals on a daily basis around the globe with the main purpose of targeting and killing/inhibiting microorganisms.

Interestingly enough for thoses of you that are keen towards history, it is intriguing to know that the notion of antibiotics as we know only came after the works of Louis Pasteur against spontaneous generation. With his pioneering work on germ theory (late 19th century) he set the way of a whole industry we see today.

Starting initially as a means to fight against human diseases (ex: penicillin) their use strongly expanded from the 1950s in food production especially in the United States.

Now all antibiotics work the same way on how they eliminate a threat, they can either destroy a microorganism cell wall or eliminate their mechanisms of DNA repair or even inhibit their ability to grow and propagate and most rarely target a specific microorganism but eliminate indiscriminately.

It is the effectiveness of Antibiotics that is causing all the damage, as they have been so good at doing what they meant to do that our large consumption (~13.5 billion just in the USA for 2011)) [1] is actually backfiring. So much so as of today some people do not hesitate to say that we have entered a “post-antibiotic” era.

This is alarming news, not so much that the effectiveness of Antibiotics is reducing but that there are no real incentives to find solutions to the problem.

You should know that :

1)      Pharmaceutical companies focus on blockbuster drugs (ex: cancer treatment drugs) as apparently antibiotics have a low return on investment.

2)      The increase of Emerging market consumption. If you though that the USA overprescribes antibiotics. the Chinese proscribe 10x more! [2]

3)      Antibiotics are widely used for the food you eat (most antibiotics are consumed by animals since the 1950’s)

4)      Antibiotics are used for a variety of medical procedures, from UTIs to organ transplant to cancer treatments.

Nevertheless not all is lost as there are still researches subsidized by governments, some health institutes have already introduced best practices measures and global awareness is increasing.

References:

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FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, p. 4, 2013.
WHEN Penicillin Pays: Why China Loves Antibiotics a Little Too Much. Time.com, 2012. Disponivel em: <http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2103733,00.html>. Acesso em: 01 maio 2014.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014, 2014. Disponivel em: <http://www.who.int/drugresistance/documents/surveillancereport/en/?_ga=1.121529416.1906585673.1398930140>.

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