The subject of superbugs is not new, but this author explains why such antibiotic-resistant bugs have appeared.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a global health crisis driven by a pharmaceutical and health care system that puts profit before people. In addition to devastating climate change, the Anthropocene may be defined by epidemics that medicine cannot cure.But this was not inevitable. As Angus further explains:
Those who hailed the first antibiotics as miracle drugs were not wrong. What those chemicals could have been was a way to work with nature, to use natural processes to overcome diseases that had plagued us for thousands of years. Used with appropriate humility and careful stewardship, in conjunction with a global drive to eradicate the conditions that cause infectious diseases, penicillin and its successors could have been boons to humanity for centuries. But that would have required a radically different economy and society.With ruling capitalist classes' obsession to obtain profits instead of human welfare, such a result was inevitable along with all the other assaults on our habitat that has produced the threats of climate destabilization, environmental pollution, and species extinctions.
Capitalism always operates in the short term and its defenders always insist that new technology will solve any problems that might arise. For several decades, antibiotics seemed to confirm that superstition—for every drug that stopped working, new ones were discovered. But that did not last. The early discoveries were low-hanging fruit and searching the higher branches has been hard and largely unsuccessful.
Mainstream economists like to claim that the market solves all—if there is a need, customer demand will produce solutions. But today, when bacteria have found ways to resist every available antibiotic, most pharmaceutical companies have abandoned the search for others. Not because new antibiotics would not be profitable, but because they would not be profitable enough. Big Pharma makes double-digit profits from drugs it sells for thousands of dollars a dose to patients who must take them frequently for many years. Antibiotics just do not fit that business model.