With growing concerns over the over-prescription of antibiotics in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province is facing serious consequences that extend beyond individual experiences. In fact, the reliance on antibiotic prescriptions in the province could have deadly implications. Dr. Peter Daley, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Memorial University, warns that the excessive use of antibiotics is contributing to a global crisis in antimicrobial resistance, which the World Health Organization considers one of the top 10 threats to global public health.
A 2022 study conducted by N.L. Health Services reveals that Newfoundland and Labrador prescribes more antibiotics per capita than any other province in Canada. This over-prescription has raised concerns among experts who believe that antibiotics are being used unnecessarily. Dr. Daley warns, “The world is running out of antibiotics. We cannot take it for granted that antibiotics will always be effective against infections like sore throats or other common ailments.”
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risks associated with disease spread, severe illness, and even death. When patients are prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, it contributes to the development of drug resistance. This, in turn, renders typical drugs ineffective when they are genuinely needed. Dr. Daley emphasizes the need for patients to refrain from requesting antibiotics they don’t need, and for physicians to avoid prescribing antibiotics when they are unnecessary.
The long-term effects of antimicrobial resistance are alarming, with increased mortality rates when drugs fail to have the desired effect. Dr. Daley estimates that approximately 14,000 lives are lost every year in Canada due to antimicrobial resistance.
To combat this ecological problem, Dr. Daley urges patients to discuss alternative treatment options with their physicians, rather than relying solely on antibiotics. However, addressing the issue of antibiotic resistance is not solely the responsibility of patients and physicians. Daley points out that the lack of profitability associated with developing new antimicrobials has hindered progress in combating this problem. Pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to invest in the development of new drugs, leaving healthcare professionals like Dr. Daley struggling to save lives with limited resources.
It is crucial for all stakeholders, including patients, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies, to come together and take collective action to curb the over-prescription of antibiotics and invest in the development of new antimicrobials. By doing so, we can mitigate the risks associated with antimicrobial resistance and ensure a healthier future for everyone.
Why is over-prescription of antibiotics a concern?
Over-prescription of antibiotics contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risks of disease spread, severe illness, and death.
Which province in Canada prescribes the most antibiotics per capita?
Newfoundland and Labrador prescribes more antibiotics per capita than any other province in Canada.
What are the long-term effects of antimicrobial resistance?
Long-term effects of antimicrobial resistance include an increase in mortality rates when drugs no longer have the desired effect, leading to potentially life-threatening situations.
Why are pharmaceutical companies not developing new antimicrobials?
Pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to invest in the development of new antimicrobials due to limited profitability associated with these drugs.