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article imageTwo-thirds of antibiotics are needlessly prescribed

By Tim Sandle     Oct 29, 2015 in Health
London - A new report, aimed at the U.K. but applicable to most parts of the developed world, has concluded that around two-thirds of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed and are of no effect.
The implication of the report’s findings are not only are antibiotics being prescribed for conditions that are not bacterial (or where the antibiotic is not necessary), the effects are of social, scientific and economic concern.
The concerns are:
a) Some antibiotics have side-effects. Therefore prescribing antibiotics that are not actually tacking an infection could lead to making patient health worse;
b) Antibiotics are expensive and cost health services money. Therefore, medics are throwing money away;
c) The knowledge of medical staff is still incomplete. Either they are misdiagnosing patients (thinking viral infections are bacterial); or they are unaware of that antibiotics are in effective; or they are bowing to pressure from patients to be given a pill (as part of some type of placebo effect);
d) The wider use of antibiotics is leading to increased antibiotic resistance among pathogenic organisms. The result of this is that many established antibiotics are becoming ineffective. The consequence of this is more expensive antibiotics need to be administered (several of which have more serious side-effects) and that some pathogens are becoming multi-drug resistant;
e) Fewer alternative antibiotics or antimicrobial are available, with few new types in development. The search for new antimicrobials is becoming a social imperative, which the market model that drives the pharmaceutical sector cannot deliver (the returns on investment are too small.)
The issues are addressed in the report, which comes from a U.K. government backed committee — Review Antimicrobial Resistance — chaired by economist Jim O'Neill.
Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, O’Neill noted: “For far too long we haven't recognised the huge cost to society of increasing resistance when we use antibiotics that we don't need - such as antibiotics for flu which have no effect except to increase the chances of superbugs developing.”
He went onto explain that an imperative with the report is "to avoid the tragedy of 10 million people dying every year by 2050, the world needs rapid diagnostics to improve our use of antibiotics.”
He then added that antibiotics “are essential to get patients the right treatment, cut down on the huge amount of unnecessary use, and make our drugs last for longer."
In related news, scientists from the U.K. and China are to work together to search for new types of antibiotics. With this, the U.K. Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) are joining forces with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to establish a joint fund of £9 million to support research on antimicrobial resistance. The involvement of these organizations, each of which is state supported, is a sign that the pharmaceutical process cannot develop new antimicrobials without governments taking up some of the financial costs.
More about Antibiotics, antimicrobials, Health, Disease, Bacteria
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