When the antibiotic was first truly introduced in the early 1900s, it was revolutionary and helped save millions of lives, but could they soon no longer be helping mankind? For some time now, doctors and scientists all over the world have known of a growing problem involving antibiotic resistance. You may have noticed your doctor giving you a newer antibiotic to try out over some of the more classic drugs like Amoxicillin or Bactrim.
This was done due to resistance issues among people throughout the world. The thought was that if someone needed the classic drug but had an antibiotic resistance to drugs, they would die regardless of what their doctors tried. An infection needs to be killed by the body, and an antibiotic is usually the only way doctors can get rid of it — especially a top-tier infection involving the respiratory system or kidneys/liver.
In an interview with Nabriva, Dr. Colin Broom, CEO of Nabriva Therapeutics, made sure to inform people that this can be treated like climate change.
“When you get resistance for a common infection, it’s a big problem, which we’re sort of ignoring a bit like global warming.”
He made the comparison due to people’s beliefs regarding the science behind climate change. Due to scientists now telling us that antibiotic resistance is a real issue, he feels it gets ignored by the same types of people. In fact, the estimated number of possible antibiotic resistance deaths sits at 10 million people annually by 2050, according to Business Insider.
Mr. Broom and his company are working on a new antibiotic for bacterial pneumonia called lefamulin. The new antibiotic drug in is phase-three trials, and the company is expected to inform people on the results later this year. New drugs are coming out as often as possible, but the issue comes down to the fact that they may have to continue over the next 40 years if the 2050 prediction is accurate.
However, that is becoming increasing difficult to do. This is not because labs are not willing or even able to work on them, but rather due to hurtles they have to go through to get drugs approved by the government in the Unites States.
It’s often hard to get good ones on the market that people do not develop an antibiotic resistance to, according to a medical officer at the CDC’s division of healthcare quality promotion named Alexander Kallen, who told Slate the following.
“I think it’s concerning. We have relied for so long on just newer and newer antibiotics. But obviously the bugs can often [develop resistance] faster than we can make new ones.”
According to the World Health Organization, many are seeing antibiotic resistance the wrong way compared to what it actually can be. Seventy-six percent of people believe that antibiotic resistance happens when a person’s body becomes resistant to the drug.
Dr. Broom explained, “It has nothing to do with you. It’s the bacteria that somebody else has had that you pick up.”
Remember going to the hospital to see a sick friend or everyone at school having chicken pocks or strep and you somehow got sick too? This was not by accident, as bacteria gets to your body in this exact way. It is not always you who develops a bad infection on your own but rather it is something you picked up from somewhere else. Your body will pick up bacterial infections all the time, and your immune system can develop a great tool that fights off a number of possible sicknesses. However, it is impossible to fight them all every time. This is when the antibiotic is crucial.
Thus, bacteria enter the body, and like a vaccine, it fights against an antibiotic that would normally help a person. Harmful bacteria keeps getting stronger and our antibiotics are not cutting it as much as they used to. And as a result, we’re seeing antibiotic resistant infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that this is leading us into a “post-antibiotic era.” This sounds absolutely terrifying, but it can be helped with new types of antibiotic drugs getting passed by the FDA.
The FDA rightly wants to make sure we do not see drugs hit the market and kill people they are prescribed to. This would be horrific, which is why we have drug trials. This allows scientists to know the side effects and success of the drug, antibiotic or otherwise. Often times, however, the drug will not be passed by the FDA, as they want more testing to be done and they also want to see effects on certain main organs like the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, and brain.
Of course, certain drugs are not going to hurt or even attack some major organs. However, the FDA wants all knowledge to be known on a drug before it is pushed out. This has caused a lot of drugs — antibiotic drugs included — to be pushed back. In order to attack antibiotic resistance, which will kill millions according to numerous scientific reports on the issue, new, safe drugs need to be pushed through more often than what we are seeing now. Hopefully, that will happen sooner rather than later.
[Featured Image by Michael Sohn/AP Images]