11 Million Useless Antibiotic Prescriptions Each Year.

A new study says that doctors have been prescribing antibiotics more than twice as often as needed to children suffering from acute respiratory infection [Source: NPR].

Even though only 27% of these infections are caused by bacteria, doctors have still been prescribing antibiotics 57% of the time.

“Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that doctors use caution when prescribing antibiotics for ear infections. That included giving parents a “contingency” prescription to use if the child doesn’t get better in a few days.”

What price new antibiotics?

While it is remotely possible that there are no more useful antibiotic products to be discovered / created, it seems that the only reason no new ones have been produced is that there is (currently) little chance of profit.

According to New Scientist, the estimated cost of coming up with a new and useful antibiotic is about $2.5 billion. Despite the massive customer base, getting a return from such an outlay is impossible while the market already has off-patent products still selling at low prices.

Here’s the most likely order of events:

  • Big Pharma will avoid antibiotics while cheap, current products are still being sold
  • Public awareness will develop regarding the impotence of current products
  • Big Pharma will work on new antibiotics, and for 5-10 years we will become shockingly more mortal
  • At the same time governments will fund research, and add to the news that we are in trouble
  • Eventually we will either have numerous new & effective antibiotics, or we will go through phases of having useful products and many people dying, or no new antibiotics will be discovered and we are screwed

Time To Start Wearing Gloves?

It seems the main ways of acquiring a transmissible illness is by either someone coughing into the air you are about the breathe, or by touching a contaminated surface with your hand and then your hand touches your mouth.

Because people generally wouldn’t touch their mouth with a glove, wearing one out in public might be a good precautionary measure, especially now that antibiotics are looking like they are no longer the miracle cure.

However it is not that easy. It is awkward to handle phones, keys, coins etc with gloves. The thinnest gloves are latex and not suited to being out and about in public. In fact, they could scare folk away. And most fashionable gloves are too cumbersome.

I have found these and will give them a go:

Ansell HyFlex 11-618

Not fashionable, but not creepy either. This isn’t my first choice, but at $80 AUD for a pack of 12, perhaps worth a go.

The multipurpose glove has a palm of coated nylon/polyurethane and an elasticised knitwrist. It is 20% lighter in weight than the manufacturer’s other equivalent products, but provides light mechanical protection.

My first choice is the Tough Gloves Ultra™ Thin Patrol Cabretta – the same product that police use, the same that TV character Dexter uses. $48 in the USA. They suggest you get the fit right, and tight.