Friday, March 15, 2013
I am really sorry to be a downer . . .
but, the new BMJ demands that I bum you out.
Britain's Chief Medical Officer -- kind of like our Surgeon General, except that she actually gets out of bed in the morning -- issues a report on antibiotic resistance. Yes, I write about this from time to time and hear and there you will hear someone cry with alarm, and yet nobody does a damn thing about it.
It seems that after the Good Lord intelligently designed microorganisms that can kill us and make us sick, He forgot to prevent them from evolving. Yes, yes I know, he's a total doofus. Anyway, they've been doing that ever since we even more intelligently designed antibiotics that can kill them, and now they're starting to escape en masse. There have been no new classes of antibiotics developed since 1987, and nothing is in sight.
What happens if we lose antibiotics? We won't just go back to a world where a sore throat or a cut finger can kill you. As Smith and Coast point out, we'll also lose the ability to do surgery. No more joint replacements, no more cancer resection. No more health care as we know it.
And why aren't drug companies reinvesting some of those trillions in profits into developing new antimicrobials? Easy. That's not where the big bucks are. They can sell you a ten day course of an antibiotic, or get you to take statins or antidepressants for the rest of your life. They are much more interested in the latter.
And why are we still feeding antibiotics to livestock? Because our politicians want the money from the pharmaceutical industry and agribusiness, just like they want the money from the fossil fuel industry, more than they want humanity to survive into the next century. Other than that, they're public servants.