The overuse of antibiotics has gained a lot of media attention lately with the growth of "superbugs" which are now resistant to mainstream antibiotics.
How has this happened? A few factors have facilitated this:
- The over-prescribing of antibiotics where doctors may be pressured by patients to give out antibiotic scripts for minor ailments or for viruses (such as the flu) which antibiotics have no effect on whatsoever, other than making the patient feel good because they are taking medication.
- The use of antibiotics in factory farms which supply pork, chicken & beef products. This area takes up to 50% of the world's antibiotic use & may cause human antibiotic resistant salmonella & E.coli. Ask your butcher for grass-fed meat.
- The cost to drug companies for the development of new drugs. According to Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America it takes 10-15 years and nearly 1 billion dollars to bring a new drug to the market. Only 5 out of 5,000 drugs on which early testing is conducted will make it to trials & only one of these will make it to regulatory approval. Many drug companies prefer to invest in drugs that are used for ongoing conditions (daily use) than drugs that are used for shorter periods (antibiotics).
In the veterinary profession we are also seeing these super bugs that are resistant to what we call first & second generation antibiotics. This is why it is illegal to prescribe antibiotics without seeing a horse for the particular condition it needs medication for; it is not good for the animal to just give out an antibiotic that may not be effective or even necessary. So when you call your vet with a medical problem, don't give them a hard time for not giving out medications: be thankful that they are being responsible for the good of all animal & humankind.
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