Thursday, 19 May 2016

Resistance is Futile?


We have known about the imminent failure of a proportion of antibiotic treatments for decades (I teach Foundation Year Biologists about this). The UK government finally appear to be doing something about antibiotic resistance as a report suggests that this will soon kill more people than 'cancer' (www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/19/no-antibiotics-without-a-test-says-report-on-rising-antimicrobial-resistance). The intention appears to prevent GPs inappropriately prescribing antibiotics for non-bacterial infections such as influenza, requiring them to subject the patient to rapid tests (yet to be developed but, apparently, urgent) before providing the drug (this might well delay the onset of treatment in some cases with potentially awful consequences). The Government also want all Pharmaceutical companies that sell antibiotics to fund the search for new ones (rather predictably the ones currently engaged in research seem keener on this levy than the ones engaged in producing standard items). Although it mentions that another cause of developing antimicrobial resistance is the use of these drugs as growth enhancers by farmers in meat production, the report seems quieter on this aspect (it is actually difficult to do something about this when the agents are used in a variety of countries). Sad to say, I am not optimistic about retaining a medical world with reliable antibiotic treatments for all bacterial infections.

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Pat Bateson

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