The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle

The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle

The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle

The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle

Synopsis

In The Antibiotic Paradox, Dr. Stuart Levy reveals how our cavalier and naive attitude about the power of antibiotics can have dire consequences. He explains that we are now witnessing a massive evolutionary change in bacteria. A build-up of new antibiotic-resistant bacteria in individuals and in the environment, mixed with the unregulated dispensing of antibiotics worldwide, is leading us into a dangerous territory where our "miracle" drugs will no longer help.

Excerpt

Antibiotics have been called the single most important therapeutic discovery in the history of medicine. While other medications could compete for this distinction, antibiotics as a class have clearly revolutionized our ability to curb death and disease from infectious microorganisms. An interesting feature of their historic discoveries is that they occurred within the lifetime of many of the population living today.

The ability of antibiotics, such as penicillin, to effect rapid cures for previously fatal infections led to their being touted as "miracle drugs." This claim remains today, having been passed down through several recent generations. While, to some extent, antibiotics have merited this appellation, it paradoxically has caused some dent in their armor. The seemingly endless miracles attributed to these drugs have led to their misuse and overuse. Bacteria responded to the widespread applications of antibiotics by finding ways to become resistant, in other words, insensitive to the killing effects of these powerful drugs.

Thus, antibiotics sow the seeds of their own potential downfall by selecting for rare strains of bacteria that have the ability to resist their activity. To complicate matters further, many of these resistance traits can be transferred or spread from one kind of resistant bacteria to other bacteria, even of different types.

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