Antibiotic Resistance Essay

Submitted By teaguejm
Words: 758
Pages: 4

Antibiotic Resistance

Since the 1930’s, antibiotics have been used to combat infectious diseases in people and animals. The numbers of tuberculosis cases, parasitic diseases, and streptococcal diseases, just to name a few, have all been greatly reduced due to the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics such as penicillin, cephalosporin, and tetracycline have all been beneficial in the aid of reducing illness and even death caused by disease when prescribed and taken correctly. However, while these drugs have proven to be helpful in patient care, they are becoming less effective at combating diseases due to over use in the medical, environmental, and societal fields. Over time, diseases become antibiotic resistant due to adaptations in the diseases that are being treated, making the drug less effective. One may compare this to certain aspects of the theory of evolution. A species (a disease in this case) must be able to undergo change to survive. In this instance, variation comes into play through mutation. Due to the high number of antibiotics that are flushed down the toilet and thrown in the garbage, our environmental antibiotic resistance is also increasing (Wilson). Even though new antibiotics can be made, they take about 12-15 years to develop and get approved and can cost up to 500 million dollars. This, along with the fact that antibiotics are not very profitable, is precisely why drug companies do not want to invest the time and money into making them. And once the antibiotic is being administered, resistance generally develops in 1-5 years (Wilson). While a disease cannot be completely stopped from becoming antibiotic resistant, we can take certain steps to prevent or slow down the development of antibiotic resistance. In the 1950’s, scientists discovered that low doses of antibiotics in livestock, such as chickens, helped boost growth rate, which in return yielded more product and profit for the agriculture industry. Environmentalists argue that this process is inhumane and leads to greater concentrations of antibiotics in the environment, which then leads to antibiotic resistance. The answer to this dilemma would, of course, be to stop using antibiotics all together in livestock. However, this cannot happen because it will result in decreased productivity and increased food prices (Wilson). Improper use of doctor prescribed antibiotics is another area that can be focused on in the effort to reduce antibiotic resistance. More than 50 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written every year. On top of this, over 50% of patients that are given these antibiotics don’t even finish their prescribed dose, which allows resistant bacteria to live, so that the next time the antibiotic is taken, the bacteria is not killed (Wilson). Actions such as enforcing stricter laws on antibiotic prescriptions or offering educational programs on antibiotic resistance could help to lower these rates, but this would cost the government millions of dollars, which is why it is fairly unlikely to happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, are taking steps to keep antibiotic resistance under control. Every year, the CDC