Overuse of antibiotics has led to an increase in strains of bacteria that are resistant to multiple types of antibiotics, meaning that antibiotics will no longer work for much longer.
Or at least that’s the risk we’re taking if we continue down this road.
‘For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics, question mark?”‘ said Dr Arjun Srinivasan. ‘Well, now I would say you can change the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”’
In the US, we also encourage antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to farmers continuously giving animals low levels of antibiotics directly in their feed and drinking water (necessary due to the squalid conditions that most industrial farm animals are raised in).
This is a predictable problem with a feasible and reasonably cost effective solution. I’m actually optimistic on this one. If people start dying in much larger numbers from bacterial infections, politicians will scramble to curb the frivolous use of antibiotics for humans and farm animals alike (housing and sanitation conditions for the animals will go up as well).
In addition, funding will be quickly diverted to sponsor research into the development of new antibiotics. It won’t be necessary in a few years after the first effort goes into effect, but it’s only a few billion dollars, and it never hurts to have some innovation in the relatively stagnant market of antibiotic drug research.