Monday, March 6, 2017

Why Thousands Continue to Ignore the Ticking Time Bomb


Most, if not all, of us visited the doctor at some point in our lives, griping about the pain exploding in our ears, throat, sinuses, etc. Almost immediately, the doctor prescribed each of us antibiotics to eliminate our pain as soon as possible. When we visit the doctor, millions of people around the world depend on the large variety of antibiotics available to eliminate our suffering. The beginning of the pain-reducing miracle drugs occurred in the year of 1928 with the discovery of penicillin, thus beginning the antibiotic age. When someone became plagued with an infection, hundreds of doors remained available to provide a relatively quick and easy escape from their problems. The eradication of these problems, being infections, occurred through the use of amoxicillin, doxycycline, cephalexin, penicillin, and many other different antibiotics which offered pathways out of the infection. However, some doorways began to be used too much. The hinges rusted, the wood began to splinter, and handles began to break making it more difficult to take that route. As a result, the usage of different doors began with the implementation of different medicinal treatments. Then, the new pathways deteriorated as well. Why did the possible routes of eradication close down so swiftly? The answer remains antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance spreads through natural selection and bacteria-to-bacteria contact each time a person implements antibiotics within their bodies. And, this antibiotic resistance closes down the doors of possibilities one by one. If the spread of antibiotic resistance continues to at its current rate, each door will continue to shut until someone with a body plagued with infection will remain trapped, without a route of escape back to their healthy self. So, why does antibiotic resistance continue to be pushed to the backburner? In the article “The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis” author C. Lee Ventola explores the reasons for the lack of a strong fight against the advent of antibiotic resistance.

Pharmaceutical companies acted as the major producers of new antibiotics in the past, however the rate of new creations continues to dwindle. The decline in production occurs due to the economic burden of developing antibiotics and the increased regulatory obstacles. Due to these issues, “of the 18 largest pharmaceutical companies, 15 abandoned the antibiotic field.” Companies remain unmotivated to develop antibiotics because they do not provide grand economic benefits with the small window of usage and their overall unprofitability. The contrast in profitability between antibiotics and specialized drugs remains extremely stark as “the net present value of a new antibiotic is only about $50 million, compared to approximately $1 billion for a drug used to treat a neuromuscular disease.” In addition to the low income generated for the creation of antibiotics, in recent years, the number of antibiotic approvals depreciated greatly due to new trial requirements and regulatory and licensing laws. Thus, even if a company tackles the challenge of discovering a new antibiotic, their expensive design remains susceptible to brutal rejection. Even with the newly implemented regulatory maze and the daunting economic burdens of undertaking the development of new antibiotics, the fact remains that if we proceed to push developing weapons to combat the bacterial strains armed with resistance to the backburner, there will barely be a fight. The war will arrive as armies of resistant bacteria infest our bodies and, without a successful method of eradication, humans will brutally lose. The time has come to build up our arsenal of antibiotics, “the CDC declared in 2013 that the human race is now in the ‘post-antibiotic era,” along with the World Health Organization warning “that the antibiotic resistance crisis is becoming dire.” Dillydalling cannot continue as the time to fight arrived years ago.

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