Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The day after antibiotics stop working

Just had a lecture on resistance to antibiotics. This photo was taken from the 1930s and shows how TB was treated back then (without antibiotics). Basically if you had TB you were treated with plenty of fresh air and then you had to hope for the best.

Hopefully the situation shown in this photo wont be repeated. Not over using antibiotics and other precautions are useful and necesarry but what we could do with really are some brand spanking new antibiotics.

When antibiotics were first discovered there was a sudden explosion in the number of antibiotics being found or made(usually a slight modification of an old one). This then tailed of to zero until the late 1990s when the oxazolididones were produced. More new classes of antibiotics from Big Pharma would be much appreciated.

The market though does not give a good incentive for companies to produce new antibiotics, for reasons given

1)Antibiotics are taken for 7-14 days, drugs for diabetes or hypertension are taken for years
2)Big Pharma makes a new antibiotic that then becomes obsolete within five - ten years due to resistance
3)Drug companies make a wonderful new antibiotic, this drug is loved by everyone. So Health Authorities decide to keep it for later and restict the use of it to try and stave off resistance developing. Therefore companies makes no money off it

I am a little scared that when/if I qualify as a doctor I am going to be facing infections that the generation before me could have treated but that I wont



  1. And that, of course, is why patients shouldn't be expecting to get antibiotics every time they get a cold. I also believe that one of the reasons that so many young people today seem to succumb to anything that is doing the rounds. When I was young you needed to be practically dead before you were given anything for whatever the bug was that was doing the rounds. Consequently our immune system got to work creating the antibodies to the nasty little germs and as we have got older we rarely suffer from anything apart from wear and tear. I often wonder what state the health of today's youngsters will be when they get to my age.

  2. Dont think its to do with eaker immune systems, but there could be an inssue psychologically. Our generation expect drugs to solve everything and we expect to geth them. If our immune systems are getting weaker 9a big if) its probably more likely down to diet