The threat of antibiotic resistance has been creeping up on us for decades – yet hardly anyone has been paying attention, let alone doing anything about it. Physicians are still over-prescribing them and patients are still popping pills like there is no tomorrow.
If the huge rise of untreatable life-threatening and drug resistant infections was not enough of a warning sign, the Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has announced that antimicrobial resistance would be put on the government’s national risk register of civil emergencies – which provides guidance on potential threats such as terrorist attacks, pandemic flu and major flooding. (BBC)
A five-year UK Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy will be published shortly which will advocate the responsible use of antibiotics and strengthened surveillance.
Dame Sally said she was shocked by the “woeful education” in antimicrobial resistance given to many medical students and doctors. She wants to decrease antibiotic prescription and make sure they are prescribed only when there are no other choices available.
Exactly –> patients and physicians alike – PLEASE LISTEN!
“A simple cut to your finger could leave you fighting for your life. Luck will play a bigger role in your future than any doctor could.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies says the threat posed by antibiotic resistance is a “ticking time-bomb” – watch video here
When a new drug is developed, the pharmaceutical company that discovers it receives a patent, usually for about 20 years. This gives the original company time to make back the money that it spent on R&D for the drug.
If you like, the patent serves as the ‘incentive’ for pharmaceutical companies to take risks and spend lots of money on developing drugs. And remember that the cost of bringing a new drug to the market is over $1 billion – if they were unable to secure profit, how would a pharmaceutical company justify the cost of R&D? Continue reading →
“Antibiotic use on farms is increasing not decreasing, so despite the initiatives and efforts we have heard about, the trends are heading in the wrong direction.”
The golden age of antibiotics has been short-lived but the move towards a post-antibiotic era has been slow to occur. We should have cut back on the use of antibiotics years ago, this would have enabled us to ‘save’ antibiotics for those extreme cases where infection is very difficult to treat otherwise. Instead, physicians have largely overlooked the looming threat of antibiotic resistance and patients have ignorantly continued to use them in scenarios where they are completely unnecessary.
For the first time since 1998, when a report was published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology on Antibiotics, the Parliament has last week finally drawn attention to the overuse of antibiotics and its consequences. Continue reading →
Written by guest blogger, Louis Daillencourt – for correspondence, please email: email@example.com
The publication of the United Nations World Drug Report and Home Affairs Select Committee report on drug policy put the question of how to effectively deal with drug use back into the spotlight. These reports argue that prohibition results in high levels of international drug-related crime but do not fundamentally alter the access and usage of drugs in developed countries.
These reports back numerous arguments frequently put forward which advocate for a change in drug policy. But their atomicity is also their weakness. Stressing the lamentable impact of drug-trafficking in producing or transit countries (60 000 people are estimated to have died as a direct result in Mexico alone) is unlikely to change the government’s policy. Humanitarian concerns abroad carry little weight when they do not coincide with a party’s short-term political interests. Former chief government advisor on drugs David Nutt has also argued that prohibition harms science by making it illegal to research drugs’ medicinal potential and denounced the chasm between drug classification and the risks they entail. Nutt’s dismissal, however, is evidence that drug policy is not rational and that cultural aspects are just as important determinants of policy. His oft-mentioned comparison with alcohol (in terms of health risk and social disruption) pays not credit to the fact that most illegal drugs have been introduced over the past 5 or 6 decades while alcohol has been a feature of our society for several centuries. Finally, education and treatment has replaced prohibition and policing in Portugal. This points to a societal shift in the way people perceive drug users. But it cannot be exported. Politicians at home legitimately seeking to lower drug use continue to argue that ending prohibition would send the wrong message to young people – and their electorate.
Ending prohibition has better chances of succeeding if politicians are confronted with one compelling reason, not a multiplicity of opinions backed by interests. What argument is therefore likely to have the most purchase? The experience of the last decades has shown that when it comes to defending the rights of minorities (5% of the world’s adult population has used drugs in 2010), arguing for freedom works. Insofar as one’s freedom does not encroach on someone else’s it should not be restricted. Societal debates such as the rights of homosexuals or the right to a dignified death are testament to this. That of drug policy should be framed in very much the same way. The fundamental premise underpinning progressive social policies have been that people should be free to make their own choices and that laws should evolve to mirror the spirit of societies. This is before one mentions the positive practicalities expected at home and abroad.
While drugs do pose a hazard to individuals, we do not live in a society averse to taking risks (possibly quite the contrary). A policy mix of prevention, education and a better understanding of addiction would go a long way in pacifying social interactions around the issue of drugs.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged £100 million to help scientists “crack cancer” by mapping NHS patients’ DNA when he visited Cambridge. £100 million of existing NHS budgets will be put aside over the next three to five years to develop new tests and better care that could save thousands of lives. The aim of the project is to bring genetic sequencing to a mainstream health service for the first time. Continue reading →
“The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, thereby inspiring the formation of new industries and the revitalization of markets that are currently stuck due to existing failures or a commonly held belief that a solution is not possible.” – X Prize website.
Founded in 1995, the X Prize Foundation is a non-profit organization, based in California, that designs and manages public competitions intended to encourage technological development that could benefit mankind.
X Prizes are monetary rewards to create incentive. It is aimed to encourage teams around the world to invest the intellectual and financial capital needed to solve difficult challenges. The idea is to offer money in order to promote creation and innovation.
“We’re moving to this integration of biomedicine, information technology, wireless and mobile now — an era of digital medicine. Even my stethoscope is now digital. And of course, there’s an app for that.” — Daniel Kraft, executive director for the FutureMed executive program
Healthcare technology is defined as the ‘prevention and rehabilitation, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and devices, medical and surgical procedures, and the systems within which health is protected and maintained’. Technology has long been revolutionizing our healthcare systems – bioengineering has produced artificial body parts and organs; robotics have enabled more precise and less invasive surgeries; advances in molecular genetics have unraveled causes of disease and have helped develop new therapies for their treatment.
Now with the development of the smartphone, medical practice could be placed directly into our hands.. quite literally. Patients could access medical help remotely, and doctors would no longer need face-to-face with patients to diagnose and treat them. In a nutshell, the transition from healthcare to tele-healthcare will create virtual medical practice. Continue reading →
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides a barrier for use of unproven and unsafe drugs on the market. For prescription drugs especially, the FDA approval process is very lengthy, requiring substantial evidence of efficacy and safety. However, following the approval of a drug, the FDA plays a limited role once the drug is on the market. How the drug is prescribed is down to the physician – for which conditions and in conjunction with what other drugs it is being prescribed is no longer under FDA regulation. Continue reading →
A report was released by the IMS ten days ago stating that the global market for medicines is expected to pick up again from an expected low 3-4% growth in 2012 to 5-7% in 2016. However, sales in the US, Europe and Japan are expected to decrease significantly. It is the emerging markets that are set to provide the bulk of this growth.
Provigil (modafinil) is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of narcolepsy and other sleep disorders that are characterized by symptoms such as increased sleepiness and daytime attacks of sleep.
But today its being used by those who do not suffer from sleep disorders. Prescription sales for this class of drugs has increased by 73 percent in four years. from $832,687,000 in 2007 to $1,440,160,000 in 2011, according to IMS Health. Continue reading →
The US government has stepped up the battle against Alzheimer’s disease by helping to launch a $100m clinical study on a promising new drug, crenezumab, that doctors hope will help against the debilitating condition. The National Institutes of Health is actively involved, helping Genentech and the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to fund the research. Continue reading →
The brain decays rapidly and is difficult to dissect, so preservation methods that were developed in the 18th century were a big leap for neuroscience. The common way to store tissue is either to freeze it at -85C or to immerse it in formaldehyde. Today there are tissue banks around the world that store different specimens for the purpose of medical intervention and research. I visited the Imperial Tissue Bank last year, a mesmerising laboratory full of brains, owned by the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the United Kingdom (UKPDS). The Tissue Bank is home to thousands of diseased brains (predominantly Parkinson’s) as well as a collection of ‘normal’ brains to use as controls. I was there to meet with a Professor and he explained that both sick and healthy people around the UK sign up as donors in the name of research. The Tissue Bank is alerted immediately of their death when the time comes. Continue reading →
Up until the last century pills were generally white, with a well-known liquid exception – the Pepto-Bismol’s pink. The transformation that started in the ’60s and hit off in the ’70s was enabled by advances in technology, notably the development of the ‘soft-gel’ capsule. Gel caps were initially found in a small selection of primary colours, but today it is possible to tint them in over 50 thousand colour combinations.