Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?

Posted on August 15, 2010  Comments (9)

Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?

[Professor Tim Walsh] “This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing enterobacteriaceae. We have a bleak window of maybe 10 years, where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with.”

And this is the optimistic view ”“ based on the assumption that drug companies can and will get moving on discovering new antibiotics to throw at the bacterial enemy. Since the 1990s, when pharma found itself twisting and turning down blind alleys, it has not shown a great deal of enthusiasm for difficult antibiotic research. And besides, because, unlike with heart medicines, people take the drugs for a week rather than life, and because resistance means the drugs become useless after a while, there is just not much money in it.

“The emergence of antibiotic resistance is the most eloquent example of Darwin’s principle of evolution that there ever was,” says Livermore. “It is a war of attrition. It is naive to think we can win.”

I have been writing about the huge risks we are talking with our future for years. The careless misuse of antibiotics is very costly (in human lives, in the future). Bacteria pose great risks to us. We need to take antibiotics to fight serious threats. The misuse of antibiotics by doctors, patients, agri-business… is the problem. And we are all living a much riskier future because far to little is being done to reduce the misuse of antibiotics.

More and more antibiotic treatments are losing effectiveness as bacteria evolve resistance. The evolution is accelerated by misuse. This costs lives today, but is likely to costs many thousands and hundreds of thousands and possible more in the next 50 years.

The NDM-1-producing bacteria were highly resistant to all antibiotics except tigecycline and colistin. In some cases, isolates were resistant to all antibiotics. The emergence of NDM-1 positive bacteria is potentially a serious global public health problem as there are few new anti-Gram-negative antibiotics in development and none that are effective against NDM-1.

Related: Antibiotics Breed Superbugs Faster Than ExpectedAntibiotics Too Often Prescribed for Sinus WoesBacteria Race Ahead of DrugsFDA May Make Decision That Will Speed Antibiotic Drug ResistanceRaised Without AntibioticsWaste Treatment Plants Result in Super BacteriaHow Bleach Kills BacteriaCDC Urges Increased Effort to Reduce Drug-Resistant Infections

9 Responses to “Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?”

  1. Roger Stinchcomb
    August 16th, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    Well we had a good run, sounds like the next generation will have their health thrown back to the level of the 19th century barring a miracle.

  2. Andrew Keir
    August 17th, 2010 @ 8:53 am

    It’s ridiculous the rate at which GP’s churn out antibiotics.

    As soon as someone gets the tiniest little sniffle, off they go to get a 2 weeks dose of antibiotics for something that would have gotten better in a week.

  3. Anonymous
    August 20th, 2010 @ 11:34 am

    I do think we misuse antibiotics a lot. Whenever we get sick, the first thing we think of is a course of antibiotics to cure us. The problem is when we will really need them for a serious sickness, will they still have the potentcy required for getting well? They do need to be closer moderated, but how is the question.

  4. Andrej
    August 24th, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

    Last time I had a cough, I was immediately prescribed a strong antibiotic with a slew of side-effects, including “spontaneous tendon rupture.” No culture, no test, nothing, straight to antibiotic. For all I know, it could have been fungal or viral, in which case the antibiotic was doing nothing. Well, nothing but providing opportunities for other bacteria to develop a resistance to it.

  5. Mark W
    September 2nd, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

    As with so many of our other growing problems, the risk of overusing antibiotics has been published for years and years and ignored. It seams that if the negative consequences of our actions are not immediate, then they are ignored!

    And I love your blog by the way – the wide range of subjects keeps me coming back!!!

  6. Tuna
    September 30th, 2010 @ 8:39 am

    As soon as someone gets the tiniest little sniffle, off they go to get a 2 weeks dose of antibiotics for something that would have gotten better in a week.

  7. Anonymous
    August 24th, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    this is very scary given the small window of time bacteria can strengthen. looks like I will soon be living life in a bubble scared of the what if in case i catch something that needs an antibiotic.

  8. sesli
    October 1st, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    As with so many of our other growing problems, the risk of overusing antibiotics has been published for years and years and ignored. It seams that if the negative consequences of our actions are not immediate, then they are ignored!

    thanky

  9. Our Poor Antibiotic Practices Have Sped the Evolution of Resistance to Our Last-Resort Antibiotic » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    October 22nd, 2016 @ 11:47 am

    […] Are you ready for a world without antibiotics? (2010) – 80% of the Antibiotics in the USA are Used in Agriculture and Aquaculture – What […]

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