I have written about the tragically under reported issue of antibiotic abuse here and here and oh yeah here and a few other times (do the search). Here’s the upshot of it all become real, what we feared is now a reality.
“We risk being in a post-antibiotic world,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not travelled within the prior five months.
We’ve made some strides here in that the government has recognized the prophylactic use of antibiotics in animals had to be curbed and even business has taken action to do so. We only buy meats from animals that were not treated with antibiotics, you can do that today. But I am not certain that I’ve seen much response from the medical community. If you click on one of my links above I quote a doctor friend who bemoaned the overprescription of antibiotics years ago. She stopped prescribing them unless absolutely necessary. But she recognized that other doctors wouldn’t do so until medical guidelines backed them up against idiot patients that insist on antibiotics for everything from a cold to a hangnail. But this abuse of medicine is not merely a waste of time and money. There are harsh consequences for us all.
Most people still do not realize how interconnected we are and that there are negative consequences for the overuse of antibiotics by the simple mechanism of evolution. Simply put, bacteria evolve and if a full course doesn’t kill the bacteria, it grows stronger. If we’re constantly slathering ourselves in antibacterials and ingesting antibiotics we are helping the bacteria we’re so paranoid of grow stronger.
We are so interconnected that even if you don’t ever take antibiotics, eat meats with them or use antibacterials you still can’t avoid the consequences of other people’s behavior because of the contaminated water supply.
According to the investigation, the drugs get into the drinking water supply through several routes: some people flush unneeded medicationdown toilets; other medicine gets into the water supply after people take medication, absorb some, and pass the rest out in urine or feces. Some pharmaceuticals remain even after wastewater treatments and cleansing by water treatment plants, the investigation showed.
For years the medical community has been aware of the dangers of the overuse and accumulation. But like with climate change, because of the monetary interests involved, not nearly enough action is taken. If there’s no money to be made in those actions then there’s not much incentive, because human life and the conservation of civilization just isn’t enough. It would have been much easier for the pharmaceutical and medical community to use their knowledge and just stop the overuse of antibiotics years ago, but bottom lines would have been hurt. So they wait until the problem is so severe that there’s money in finding a fix for the mess they themselves created.
In January, dozens of drugmakers and diagnostic companies, including Pfizer (PFE.N), Merck & Co (MRK.N), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L), signed a declaration calling for new incentives from governments to support investment in development of medicines to fight drug-resistant superbugs.
So super-duper Hulk-like antibiotics to fix what normal antibiotics caused. This will not end well. We already have some very strong antibiotics that have had so many side effects that their use has had to be curtailed. Have you ever taken Levoquin? Earlier this month the FDA warned that you maybe shouldn’t because of the well known debilitating side effects (nerve damage, tendon damage, aorta tears, etc.). Law suits are abounding now on this one. Also Cipro and Avelox. Besides horrible side effects worse than the original disease, the use of these already super antibiotics is blamed for the increasing problems with superbugs MRSA and c.diff.
The rising use of these potent drugs has also been blamed for increases in two very serious, hard-to-treat infections: antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (known as MRSA) and severe diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile. One study found thatfluoroquinolones were responsible for 55 percent of C. difficile infections at one hospital in Quebec.
Technology does not fix the problems of technology, it just piles on newer and more profound problems. When has complexity ever solved the problems of complexity? The answer to these problems is more likely to be found in the words of Henry David Thoreau:
“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.”