Tuesday , March 21 2023

Resistance to antibiotics is a serious threat to Canadian health, experts say


With the cold and flu season on us, some patients will undoubtedly go to their doctors looking for a prescription for antibiotics, even if drugs are useless against such viral infections.

It is such an incorrect and excessive use that has helped a growing number of bacteria become resistant to most or all of the antibiotics – a phenomenon that doctors call a crisis because there are no new drugs in the pharmaceutical line to replace them.

And not only patients and doctors are guilty: decades of liberal antibiotic use to promote farm animal health towards our meals and environmental contamination through ubiquitous medicines have resulted in so-called superbugs such as MRSA and VRE that have developed resistance to their effects.

However, he stressed that antimicrobial resistance is a natural phenomenon, a process of bacterial evolution that has taken place for millennia, said Gerry Wright, director of McMaster University's Institute for Infectious Disease Research.

"What is frustrating, of course, is that the excess of antibiotics, when we do not need them, contributes to this selection," he said from Hamilton, Ont. "If we create a situation where we use antibiotics when it should not, then we will create selective pressures that increase the chances of developing bacteria in resistant organisms.

"And this is the problem we now find that there are more and more bacteria in the clinic where we use a lot of antibiotics that do not respond to all the medicines we have at our disposal."

The difficulty is that the pharmaceutical industry will not invest time or money in search of new antibiotics, Wright said, explaining that not only science is "very loud", but discovery of drugs of any kind is extremely expensive.

Drug manufacturers are not prepared to pay $ 1 billion in average to develop an antibiotic that can cure an infection in five to ten days when they can put their resources into drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, for life.

Add this to the fact that a new antibiotic may have a limited shelf life because the errors it intended to treat can develop resistance and there are few incentives, said Dr. Andrew Morris, director of the Antimicrobial Administration Program at Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto.

Morris said that the lack of new antibiotics is also a problem of civil society, because people consider these drugs to be widely available since the 1940s.

"So we can have a cancer drug that can extend someone's life by six months and that can cost between $ 5,000 and $ 100,000," he said, "and on the other hand, we can have an antibiotic that can save lives someone and take if the drug costs more than $ 1,000. "

"Affects Everyone, Everywhere"

An online national survey that measures Canadian knowledge about this issue found that 60% of respondents wrongly believed that antibiotic resistance means that a person with an infection is drug resistant. Launched for World Antibiotic Week, ending Sunday, the Leger survey of more than 1500 Canadians aged 18 years also showed that 44% believe resistance is increasingly worrying for countries in developing.

"Antimicrobial resistance affects everyone, everywhere, and this includes Canada, where there is a growing concern," Morris said. "It is truly a global health issue that justifies collective action."

By 2050, it is estimated that drug-resistant infections will result in approximately 2.4 million excess deaths in developed countries, according to a recent OECD projection that represents nations like Canada , Australia, USA and the UK

Other experts have warned that by then, the number of deaths annually due to antibiotic resistance will increase to 10 million worldwide – dwarf cancer – and will cost the global economy 100 billion US dollars.

"Literally, the worst thing that could happen is that we will get the same as in the 1920s and 1930s," before penicillin discovery, when more people died of the infection than from any other cause, said Wright.

"There are people who die today in Canadian hospitals that five years ago they would not have died [their] infection, "Wright said.

"There are not necessarily thousands of people, people do not fall on the street, there is no zombie apocalypse," he said.

"But we have people in our hospitals that we have not been able to treat."

And not just those with infections can be affected by resistance, he said. "It will return to a time when you can not perform an organ transplant because you will be compromised immune for the rest of your life. You will not be able to save preterm babies, treat leukemia.

"Things that we consider to be absolutely routine today will disappear or, if not, they will be incredibly risky."

"The Biggest Threat to Health"

Both Wright and Morris stress that concerted action must be taken to stem the tide of resistance, which means that federal and provincial governments assume a leading role in coordinating innovative programs to encourage the development of antibiotics, find alternative treatments and reduce abuse and excess.

"We are really at this perfect level of storm and filter down to not every Canadian – not every Canadian is currently affected by this – but we are getting the Canadian daily getting hit by it now and it will become getting worse, "Morris said.

Barring the global war or catastrophic emerging runaway virus, I think the greatest health threat in motion around the world is absolutely antimicrobial resistance.

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