Alexander Fleming’s great discovery of the mould Penicillium led the way to the discovery of the antibiotic known as penicillin. Even then, Fleming was well aware of the danger of misusing the drugs especially when a person would under dose his prescription. During his lecture on December 11th 1945 he included a warning at the end of his Nobel lecture about his very important discovery. Under dosing would expose the disease causing bacteria into a non-lethal amount of antibiotic that would eventually make them resistant to the drug they have been exposed to.
The penicillin is a very important discovery in the field of medical science alongside with the other antibiotics and vaccination drugs. But Fleming’s warning of the side effects of the under dosed drugs has never left their mind. The danger of starting a new strain of a resistant bacterium that would eventually cause the start of an epidemic which has no known treatment available is really scary.
The most common causes of antibiotic resistance are through convenience and laziness. People who often misuse these antibiotics do not realize the impact of their action. Bacterias are not similar to viruses and antibiotics only work against bacteria. Most patients would insist on taking antibiotics for a viral infection. And there are also some doctors who write unnecessary prescriptions. But this would eventually lead to a breeding ground for resistant bacteria that would infect other individuals. Wrong intake or under taking the prescribed drug would also cause bacterial resistance.
Creating a new strain of bacteria could cause a new form of dangerous illness that has no known cure. This will result to the long stay of infected people at the hospital and might also result in complicating their treatment. The worst case scenario, patients would die due to limited treatment methods. There was once a research done at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. Samples were taken from the 1,400 patients where they found a resistant strain that infected 188 people and 12 died from it because of the limited treatment done to the patients. The new bacteria usually infects children and the old ones. People with cancer and already suffering from other illnesses are also more likely to be infected with the new strain of bacteria.
Developing a new drug would cost a lot and it will not be ready in an instant. A series of research and experiments are needed to prove that the drug is safe and that it really can fight the new disease-causing bacteria. In America alone about 1% or $17- $26 billion a year from their health care goes to spending on studying for cure on the resistance antibiotics. Other countries would only result to buying certain alternative but doesn’t promise the same effectiveness as the actual drug and might cause another new strain of bacteria in the process.
Action and not panic
Doing nothing is one option or probably the easiest way of dealing with the new strain of bacteria. Since it will cost a lot and there is no certainty of being able to discover a cure. One best example is during the mid-1940s when penicillin was not invented, dying from bacterial infection was just normal. But when the antibiotics and vaccines have been discovered, a large number of patients were saved because of the available treatment. And this inspires our medical physician and researchers to study and discover drugs and cure for certain diseases caused by the antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Thinking that resistance might be self-limiting is one of the most basic biological reasons that people often believes in. There are several studies which show that it would be hard or impossible for a certain bacteria to change or adjust its characteristic or physiological traits to become resistant to a certain drug. It often requires a lot of energy that most of the microorganism cannot do.
Several experiments and studies show that most of the antibiotic resistance resulted from inappropriate or unnecessary use of the drugs. Misuse, overuse or improper dosing and even using substandard or much diluted medicines are major causes of the increasing cases of antibiotic resistance. If there won’t be any strict policy against the misuse of antibiotics and a certain system that would monitor the proper usage of antibiotics, this practice would never be corrected.
All involved sectors like the government, drug companies and health-care providers should work hand in hand to educate and help the people learn the proper way to treat themselves. Poor countries should ask and be able to avail of the right drugs freely from charitable agencies.
Agencies that regulate the distribution of these drugs should also strictly be monitored so that substandard and counterfeit drugs will not be given to clueless patients. And certain methods should be taken so that antibiotics are only administered properly to patients who badly need it.
Patient should also follow the prescription from their doctor. They should drink the exact amount of antibiotic given by their doctor and not stop when they started to feel better. Doctors should make sure that their patients followed their prescribed drug dosage.
Smart microbes against ignorant humans
Making new antibiotics is another approach in dealing the resistance problem. Making a new drug that the resistant bacteria are not familiar of, will probably be able to fight and get rid of it.
Each year the World Health Organization celebrates a World Health Day on the 7th day of April. Each year they create a slogan that would summarize the goal of the organization for the whole year. They are able to use the slogan “No action today, no cure tomorrow” this completely mirrors their efforts in discovering new drugs that would fight the new strain of bacteria that are developing.
Researchers now faced with the challenge unlike what those researchers have to do before penicillin was created. And most drug makers today are not being successful in creating new line of medicine that would fight the resistant bacteria. They mostly give funds to the study of how proteins behave but did not really help in solving the continuing problems they face. And there are other signs that show large drug companies such as Pfizer are running low with their funding which have resulted to budget cutting in their research area.
Bad luck might also be the reason why there is lack of new antibiotics in the market. Most companies and medical experts would agree that there is a need for discovering new medicine for the developing new resistant strain of bacteria but most of their research and funding is not enough to be able to successfully create a new drug.
But experts are not giving up in researching and experimenting for the new cure. Though most are just done under a private funding that would mean that they sometimes lack all the necessary tools to make their work faster and more efficient.
The side effect of common antibiotic usage
All of the problems which is caused by the resistant strain of bacteria are because of the over usage of the antibiotic drugs. Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Princeton University is considered one of the major professional that still continues researching about the presence of the resistance bacteria is trying to answer all the common questions relating to it. And he believes that with a mixture of incentives and scourges they will be able to produce a perfect solution to the resistant strain. They must insure that there are enough prize funds or even just a guaranteed-purchase arrangement for the new antibiotic or drugs that would help speed up the process into creating certain cure. Companies will only develop drugs where they can get a large profit. And developing a system that would help in properly deploying the new drugs would mean that more patients would be able to afford taking the necessary prescription their doctor advised. He also believes the positive effect of having stricter dispensing guidelines for medical physicians and also pharmacists of antibiotics that would help in lessening the hazard of overtreatment on patients though this perfect system would take a lot of effort and financial aid to fulfill this into reality.
A little realistic solution is also better according to Derrick Crook, an Oxford microbiologist consultant, who thinks this is the right solution. He believes that it is very difficult to massively restrict or prohibit the use of antibiotic or antimicrobials if the patient feels or thinks that it is doing well. Ignorance with the proper use and effects of the drugs is also a big factor in the difficulty of restricting the use of antibiotics.
Tim Peto one of Dr. Crook’s colleagues at Oxford is very skeptical of the idea that the resistance might cause certain catastrophic effect to humans. He even points out that in modern surgery the risk of infection is really low and it is close to zero at this moment. And if a certain resistant strain would raise most of the orthopedic, discretionary but life-enhancing procedures and cataract replacement would simply stop. Not necessarily the end of the world but just a step backward for the medical field.