Posted by: Benedict Lam1 FEB 2013
Just like the Mayan apocalypse, the prospect of antibioticresistance has been with us for many years. But, unlike 21 December 2012 (whichpassed without much fanfare or drama), antibiotic resistance is real and,according to chief medical officer for England Dame Sally Davies, the rise indrug-resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming.
She said that bacteria were becoming resistant to currenttreatments and there are not many other antibiotics to replace them.Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the growing resistant strains oftuberculosis and gonorrhoea are all adding to the growing problem.
Professor Davies said there is a broken market model formaking new antibiotics. It is an empty pipeline so bacteria become resistant,she said. Also, because of the way antibiotics are used, there will not beantibiotics to come, she warned. The World Health Organization has similarlywarned that the world is heading for a “post-antibiotic era” unless action istaken.
Globally, countries where the sale of antibiotics is noteffectively regulated hasten the dawn of the antibiotic apocalypse. Locally,every time a doctor succumbs to patient pressure to prescribe antibiotics inappropriatelyand every time we or our staff supply chloramphenicol eye drops in pharmaciesinappropriately we are contributing to antibiotic resistance.
Perhaps, as with global warming, there are those who do notbelieve in antibiotic resistance or, for their own (selfish) reasons, refuse toplay their part in reducing the spread of it. In countries like the UK, wherethe sale of antibiotics is regulated, doctors and pharmacists have arguably themost important roles to play in reducing the unnecessary and overuse ofantibiotics. The Mayan prophecy may not have come true, but complete antibioticresistance is a real possibility, and that is an apocalypse we would not wantto face.