Animals, drugs and superbugs

December 2016

How corporations are making us sick

Drug resistant bacteria are spreading across the world, threatening to turn previously treatable diseases into deadly killers. A big part of the problem is that the production and much of the use of antibiotics is in the hands of large corporations that seek profit over the wellbeing of people.but they will also be the first and hardest hit as cheaper forms of antibiotics become ineffective. Countries with high levels of diseases like TB, which is already developing antibiotic resistance, will be especially hard hit. Of the estimated 10 million deaths a year from drug resistant bacteria by 2050, almost 9 million would be in Asia and Africa, so drug resistant bacteria will exacerbate already extreme global inequality.
 
“On current trends, a common disease like gonorrhea may become untreatable. Doctors facing patients will have to say, ‘I’m sorry – there’s nothing I can do for you.’”
Margaret Chan, World Health Organization director general.
 
We could soon be facing an “antibiotic apocalypse” as life-saving drugs are becoming ineffective, warned England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies earlier this year. Drug resistant bacteria are spreading across the world, threatening to turn previously treatable diseases into deadly killers. Unless we take urgent action, drug-resistant infections are expected to kill 10 million people a year by 2050, more people than die from cancer.
 
A big part of the problem is that the production and much of the use of antibiotics is in the hands of large corporations that seek profit over the wellbeing of people. No new type of antibiotic has been developed in over 30 years, as it is not profitable enough for companies. And much of our antibiotic use comes from the routine use of antibiotics in groups of livestock, such as pigs and
poultry, where no disease has even been diagnosed. This might push up corporate profit margins, but also increases the risk of bacteria developing resistance.
 

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