Although it has been variously predicted that there are ten to fifteen years left of usable antibiotics, despite the noble efforts of a few small (mostly foreign) companies, the end of antibiotic days is coming upon us ever more swiftly.
People have feared MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) for about a decade, but new superbugs like carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP) are spreading antibiotic resistance at a faster rate. Why? MRSA spread the genes that made it resistant within its family of bacteria, but CRKP is able to spread knowledge of antibiotics resistance more freely, meaning that it can easily spawn more superbugs.
World Health Day was earlier this week, and one of the suggestions that came up to reduce antibiotics resistance was to suggest there be an antibiotics fee (â€œAntimicrobial Innovation and Conservation Feeâ€) for their use, and that the fee be used (rather than lining the pockets of Big Pharma) to sponsor research into new antibiotics. Generally, new antibiotics are useful for a very short time period, keeping them from recouping the costs of development and being profitable (and thus worthwhile) to Big Pharma.
The user fee may indirectly affect the price of antibiotics for consumers, but in the long run conserving antibiotics keeps other medical costs down. Without them, surgeries, and even regular hospital stays, will become more costly as it will be harder to keep bacterial transmission at bay. Imagine some of the more high-tech instruments becoming one use (in a worst case scenario).
Most importantly, a fee to prevent antibiotics resistance would affect not just those demanding antibiotics for what doctors see as minor infections (ear infections in children, bronchitis in otherwise healthy teens), but would affect those who overuse antibiotics when raising livestock (pumping antibiotics into healthy cattle, pigs, etc.).
Clean Hands Save Lives
Hygiene is the most important step in preventing superbug growth and bacterial transmission. Frequent handwashing, especially with regard to food preparation and hospital stays has been shown to significantly reduce bacterial transmission.
If you want to do more, invest in organic meat and dairy products. Raised without hormones and antibiotics, your not funding one of the leading causes of antibiotics resistance (and feeding your family a tasty meal).
Also start looking into natural alternatives to antibiotics, such as natural supplements with natural antibacterial properties.
How do you think we should conserve antibiotics?