Strongest Antibiotics, more than ever before.

Antibiotics. A new report from the CDC turns up chilling data on our use of the lifesaving drugs.

Strongest Antibiotics. A new report from the CDC turns up chilling data on our use of the life-saving drugs. Image Credit: Sezeryadigar / iStock

Strongest Antibiotics, more than ever before. A new report from the CDC turns up chilling data on our use of the life-saving drugs.

PPretend you found a mosquito in your bedroom. Would your first move to kill it or you call the exterminator to fumigate your whole house? Probably you’d start by killing the mosquito. Maybe, if they kept showing up, you’d try a few other things. If none of that worked, you’d eventually call-in the big guns.

Over six years, prescription of carbapenems jumped by an alarming thirty seven percent. Doctors use the same approach when they treat infections with antibiotics. They use the weakest possible drug that they know. It will be effective for a specific kind of infection. If it doesn’t work, they move-on to the big guns-broad-spectrum antibiotics that can kill a wide range of bacteria. But now, doctors are prescribing more of them, than they ever have before. This leads researchers to speculate that first-line antibiotics aren’t working as well as they were used to.

Strongest Antibiotics, more than ever before.

A new Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Resistance, tracked antibiotic prescriptions. Between 2006 and 2012, overall antibiotic prescription rates remained the same. But prescriptions for carbapenems, jumped by an alarming thirty seven percent. This antibiotics is used to treat infections that don’t respond to the usual drugs, as prescriptions of the powerful antibiotic vancomycin. It’s one of the only drugs effective against the scary skin infection. It is methicillin-resistant to Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It increased by twenty seven percent. Meanwhile, the use of fluoroquinolones dropped by twenty percent. It’s a very commonly prescribed class of antibiotics that isn’t nearly as strong as carbapenems or vancomycin.

The researchers think that they can explain the rise in prescriptions of super-powerful antibiotic. And also verify the decline in use of less potent drugs.  Bacteria develops resistance to the most commonly prescribed drugs. So, doctors have to call-in the big guns more often. And if bacteria starts developing resistance to the most powerful antibiotics, they’re really in trouble.

One way to avoid that outcome could be to make sure that doctors save the last-resort drugs for bacteria, that other drugs can’t kill. The researchers note that the inappropriate antibiotic use, increases the risk of antibiotic resistance. Besides another adverse patients outcomes.

Strongest Antibiotics, more than ever before.

But hospitals are not the only source of superbugs. Dr. Tom Philpott has reported, an astonishing eighty percent of all US antibiotics, go to the livestock industry. There, meat producers regularly dose even healthy animals with them. This practice allows farmers to cram lots of animals into small spaces, without sickening each other. They make them grow faster. It also spreads antibiotic-resistant genes to humans. The FDA’s rules on livestock antibiotics are pretty permissive. In response to consumer concerns about superbugs, some meat companies are moving away from antibiotics on their own.

The good news: The FDA appears to be noticing the mounting evidence that our antibiotics are losing strength. Last week the agency signaled that it may soon limit how long farmers can use the drugs.


Information and Images were shared from an article published in MotherJones by Kiera Butler, on September 19th, 2016. Image Credit: Sezeryadigar / iStock.



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