Antibiotic resistance is a challenge for our society. In large part, this is due to medical doctors overprescribing antibiotics, particularly in cases which either don’t need antibiotics or when the immune system’s natural response would be the best cure. There aren’t a lot of antibiotics being created these days. Many new “bugs” are growing into antibiotic-resistant mutations. Additionally, massive antibiotic use in farmed animals poses a problem for people who consume them.
But the latest news released by the WHO is even more dire and it seems to point to an antibiotic collapse is upon us. And part of that is because vaccine development is down. And that could be due to vaccine development being such a thriving market.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, according to MarketWatch. Without more investment in research and development, “we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery.”
Now the medical community is behind the 8-ball. The mutations are winning, as sci-fi as that might sound. This is especially true for drug-resistant tuberculosis and other infections the WHO has designated as high priority.
Of 51 new products in development for antibiotic-resistant infections, the WHO believes that only eight are innovative and add value to current options. And because drug development is a drawn-out process, most of it unsuccessful, current efforts could result in only about 10 new approvals in the next five years, the report said.
Even then, “these potential new treatments will add little to the already existing arsenal” because most of the products being developed today are essentially versions of existing antibiotic classes, the report said. Thus, most products usually can’t work against many current types of resistance, and will only be helpful in the short term. (MarketWatch)
But wait, there’s more.
One of the main reasons that antibiotic development has slowed is that pharma just doesn’t find them profitable enough. Antibiotics are often priced cheaply. They are used inconsistently. They have trouble finding investors for their initial research and approval processes. It would almost seem as if pharma is choosing to target the much more thriving vaccine industry over antibiotics, all logic considered.
I know, this all seems so very confusing. Let’s summarize: Antibiotics aren’t working because doctors and Big Food overused them on us. Bacteria is mutating. Antibiotics are not that profitable. Vaccines are a reliable money maker.
If pharmaceutical companies really cared about our health, would they allow themselves to be contributing factors to an antibiotic doomsday?