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Should the widespread use of antibiotics continue?

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Introduction

Should the widespread use of antibiotics continue? History and the problem The first use of antibiotics has been recorded as the use of tetracycline, found in 1000 year old mummies (The antibiotic paradox, Dr. Stuart Levy). Penicillin, the fist-recorded discovery was in 1928 by Dr. Alexander Fleming, but it wasn't until Drs Florey and Chain began work that it became useable or even generated an interest. It wasn't until 1942 that penicillin was in a useful form: Name Date Penicillin 1942 Streptomycin 1943 Cephalosporins (discovered) 1945 Chloramphenicol 1947 Chlor-Tetracycline 1947 Methicillin 1960 Ampicillin 1961 Gentamycin 1963 Cephalosporins (developed) 1964 The problem with the widespread use antibiotics is that it leads to overuse and improper dosage. The problem with overuse aside from side effects - which include discolouration of enamel, liver and kidney failure and reduced bone growth, (from natural alternatives to antibiotics, By Dr. John McKenna) is the development of antimicrobal resistance. Antimicrobal resistance can occur in many ways, and can render antibiotics useless against resistant bacteria. ...read more.

Middle

While antibiotics may be loosing effectiveness and causing the birth of 'super bugs' they are still far cheaper and easier than the alternative (bringing people into hospitals and treating them with chemical drugs and other therapies) - in the short term. Because of resistant bacterial strains new antibiotics and new cures are needed. These cost millions of pounds in research and development, and eventually strains develop that are almost impossible to kill. The most important case study is Staphylococcus aureus, which used to be resistant to all antibiotic drugs but vancomycin and can be fatal. In May 1996, vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was infecting the surgical site of a four-year-old baby. Because Staphylococcus aureus is also resistant to antiseptics the boy was incredibly lucky to survive. Now VRSA also infects healthy people and not just people in hospitals (taken from New Scientist 23rd July 02). Because of bacteria like VRSA hospitals are now trying to use new technology such as air ionisers and more powerful irradiators, however effective drugs are desperately needed. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Taken from International Journal of Antimicrobal Agents by Wierup M Swedish Animal Health Service.). Even larger losses are predicted for beef and chicken industries worldwide. Also Pharmaceutical industries would see a huge drop in profits, as antibiotics are one of their key products. By stopping free use of antibiotics as a preventative means they face a huge sales drop (up to 60% of antibiotic sales). Economically this would mean huge profit losses and the need for mergers in the pharmaceuticals industry, resulting in higher drug prices due to the lack of competition. For the UK Government this would mean that hospitals would be even more expensive to run on top of the increases prices for new beds etc. needed to treat patients who could simply take antibiotic medicine. (Statistics taken from letskeepantibioticsworking.com) The widespread use of antibiotics should not continue as it has. The use on farms as a growth promoter should be stopped in order to reduce the number of strains of microbiotic resistant bacteria, which are a threat to everyone. However laws governing the research of antibiotics should be laxed. And hospitals need to use better aseptic techniques to prevent the creation of more 'super bugs'. ...read more.

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