According to a study from the Center for Disease, Dynamics, Economics & Policy, nearly 120,000 infections and 6,000 deaths will occur over seven years due to the growing ineffectiveness of antibiotics. Hundreds of clinical trials involving the 10 most common surgical procedures were analyzed to determine the future of antibiotic potency over that period of time.
In the past, antibiotics have proven powerful in combating infections, but research has shown that patients often don’t take their medications as recommended and there is a growing trend of doctors over prescribing these pills. Passed their life span, antibiotics don’t work as they should; the bacteria they are meant to combat aren’t wiped out and instead grow into a stronger and drug resistant form that threatens the everyday health of people across the world.
Most people will have some sort of surgery in their lifetime. Whether it’s having wisdom teeth pulled as a teenager, a C-section in one’s thirties, or hip replacement later in years, modern medicine depends on antibiotics to stave off infections. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Timothy Leahy has said “There are only two ways to fight antibiotic resistance: stop antibiotic misuse and create new antibiotics. Both are challenging because they require us to balance public health concerns with either ingrained habits or vested interests.”
Although the White House has put in place a five-year plan to combat antibiotic resistance and President Barack Obama has curbed the use of antibiotic laden meats in the federal cafeterias, Congress has yet to take political or financial action. Given the influence “big pharma” and its lobbyists have on the members of Congress, it makes sense that there have been no drastic measures taken. The pharmaceutical industry is after all, an industry. It has CEOs, products, and advertisements all directed towards making money. The more pills that are prescribed, the more money the industry makes.
While widely reported in the UK and Canada, US corporate news media coverage regarding the increase of antibiotic resistance has been sparse. One story in Ohio’s Dayton Daily News covered the issue in detail, even noting a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that stated 268 million antibiotic prescriptions written in 2014 were either “unnecessary or inappropriate,” but was alone in assigning blame to the pharmaceutical industry. For example, a story in The Washington Post discussed the rise of a specific “superbug” (an antibiotic resistant pathogen) but never delved into what might cause such strong bacteria, nor what can be done to fight it.
P.K. Collins, “Antibiotic Resistance Could Kill Thousands Of People,” ThinkProgress RSS. October 16, 2015, http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/10/16/3712994/antibioticseffectiveness/
Randy Tucker, “Ohioans at More Risk to Contract ‘superbugs,’” Dayton Daily News, December 4, 2015, http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/ohioansatmorerisktocontractsuperbugs/npb4W/
Lena H. Sun, “Superbug Known as ‘phantom Menace’ on the Rise in U.S.” The Washington Post, December 4, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/toyourhealth/wp/2015/12/03/superbugknownasphantommenaceontheriseinus/
Student Researcher: Juliet Paulson (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Advisor: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)