If you have an bacterial infection, you’ve likely heard that antibiotics can be effective. But antibiotics come with many drawbacks, including the promotion of antibiotic resistance. Sometimes, supportive care is the only option. Here’s how you can reduce antibiotic resistance: Avoid taking antibiotics for viral infections, save them for a later time, and make sure you finish your full course of medication. And never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
Alternatives to antibiotics
There are many different types of antibiotics. Some work well and are more effective than others. But they have their own costs and risks. While antibiotics are important for treating infections, their use has been limited by the development of antibiotic resistance. In addition, pharmaceutical companies are more interested in developing new drugs to treat cancer or diabetes than in fighting bacterial infections. Luckily, there are alternatives to antibiotics that can keep the antibiotics in the market for a long time.
A better diagnostic tool can help doctors pinpoint which bacteria are causing a disease and treat them appropriately. With more accurate information, a healthcare worker can prescribe the right antibiotic more efficiently and reduce the risk of resistance. But in the meantime, good practices need to be applied at all stages of food production to limit the use of antibiotics. The original study on this topic is available online. While the findings may seem counterintuitive at first, the goal is to reduce the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
Avoiding subtherapeutic doses
Many people miss their prescribed antimicrobial doses, either deliberately or accidentally. Others may stop therapy when side effects occur, exposing pathogens to low doses of antibiotics. These practices are common in developing countries, where self-medication is a prevalent practice. In addition, antibiotics are often obtained illegally through unregulated supply chains. This practice has significant potential to increase antibiotic resistance in humans.
In the United States, half of all antibiotics are used in agriculture. This includes disease prophylaxis, feeding animals antibiotics to prevent disease outbreaks, and crop dusting. Animal feed contains subtherapeutic antibiotic doses, which are a greater threat to human health. But while these uses are important, the debate over their need for these antibiotics continues. In the meantime, we can avoid wasting money on unnecessary antibiotics.
The debate over antibiotic resistance is centered on two issues. One issue is the use of antibiotics as feed additives in fish, which enhances growth and prevents disease in animals. Another issue is the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes, which was banned in Europe in 2006 in an attempt to prevent overuse. But these methods are largely ignored. So, why use antibiotics in the first place?
Educating people about antibiotics
Educating people about the importance of antibiotics is a key strategy to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance. Research has shown that public health outcomes are influenced by many factors, including education level, cultural differences, and proficiency in medical knowledge. In addition, health literacy is associated with behaviours and attitudes towards health and medicines. The study assessed whether education could help promote more appropriate use of antibiotics and reduce self-medication. The participants completed a questionnaire that included 17 statements that assessed their knowledge on safe and appropriate antibiotic use.
In an analysis of 85 studies from 42 countries, the researchers found that high education was associated with a lower likelihood of antibiotic misuse compared to low education, with the latter being associated with a more favorable association in the Middle East and lower-middle income countries. Regardless of educational background, the findings are important in helping prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance. To prevent this, it is imperative that interventions target different groups of the population.
Developing new antibiotics
Currently, there are 19 antibiotics in clinical development. Some of them could address the emergence of Gram-negative pathogens like Enterococcus faecium and Clostridioides difficile. Other antibiotics may address carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which is a growing threat to human health. The World Health Organization considers these bacteria to be a “critical” threat to global health.
Currently, most new antibiotics are developed by small and medium-sized companies. But they face formidable challenges in bringing these drugs to market. Moreover, because these drugs are expensive, doctors are unlikely to prescribe them as a first line of treatment. Consequently, they may not be appropriate for all types of infections. That’s why we need more innovative drugs to combat the problem of antibiotic resistance. And the only way to find those drugs is to spend more money on R&D.
As a result, the US FDA has proposed licensing fees for antibiotics. The researchers at Duke University recommend that government bodies work together to determine which antibiotics qualify for licensing fees and to set guidelines for the use of these antibiotics. Ideally, these incentives would be coupled with policies that will discourage the overuse of antibiotics and promote adherence to good health practices. That’s where CARB-X comes in.