” 80 % of sore throat and common cold are viral, but 80 % of the people who get them take antibiotics” a very senior professor remarked at a scientific session here a few days ago, a tragedy this is of sort of which we all have been a part since the time Fleming found the penicillin. Today self prescriptions at four out of five times are far from rationality. Professional prescriptions are not any far behind. With times it has just gotten harder, and when I find at least one bug a day on an average resistant to sixteen of the seventeen antibiotics tested in the laboratory, and the generation time of a bacteria on an average being twenty minutes it gives me a compelling reason to speak about it.
Where do we draw the line when it comes to taking or prescribing antibiotics, or can we? Well this is something which we should be concerned about before a cough takes us or anyone whom we know to the intensive care unit and gives a com
ma, at times even a full stop. The point is it is hard not
to care, it is hard not to hope to get well. Antibiotics give relief, or so is our
belief. One easy way to procure them is the neighbourhood pharmacy, where Amox is equal to candies and Norflox are not any less
than toffees. The more you pop them the more gratifying it gets. The other end
of the problem is the lack of a uniform antibiotic policy which is flexible enough to be
applicable to all health care set ups across the country. There is a lot more
to superbugs than just medical tourism. Not to forget is the charge at the ‘doctor’s
shop’, you know the two or three small notes at the barber’s shop, well it’s just a ‘little’
higher than that you have to part with. Who does not want to save money, duh! What the doctor gave thy neighbour shall work for me this time, well that is the popular idea.
This silent epidemic has already gained its momentum. Bacteria are developing all kinds of new mutations and have all plasmids possible. We are much behind, there have been no new molecules to target them past few decades. All we can do right now is try out all kinds of permutations and combinations. If ain’t wrong it is hard for a doctor to decide whether to stop a course of antibiotic or not rather than when to start one! And when there are bigger health issues in place, problems such as these do not come out into the open. It has to be a plague, it has to be a swine flu. Not until then. Fleming had warned in his Nobel Lecture by the way:
-Alexander Fleming in Nobel Lecture, 1945-