What is an Antibiotic?
ANTI – Against
BIOS – Life
ANTIBIOTIC = Against Life
In its most common use, an Antibiotic is a medicine that destroys or slows down the multiplication or growth of a Bacteria.
How do Antibiotics work?
Antibiotics work by either destroying the cell wall of the bacteria, or interfering with it’s growth/ multiplication or by preventing protein formation.
Based on their action Antibiotics are either Bactericidal (Kill Bacteria) or Bacteriostatic (Slow down the multiplication of the bacteria so that the body’s own defense mechanism can then kill the bacteria).
Though Sir Alexander Fleming is credited with having created the first Antibiotic- Penicillin – in 1928, as a class of drugs they were available before this also.
in 1909, a highly toxic drug called ‘ Salvarsan’ was used to treat Syphilis.
The Sulphonamides were discovered in the 1920s and Prontosil was used to treat infections caused by Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.
From 1940 onwards, for the next 20 years or so, more Antibiotic classes were made available.
At the current moment however, very few new Antibiotics are under development.
How did we reach this stage?
After having understood that Antibiotics fight against dangerous Bacterial Infections and help us to survive them, it must be acknowledged that they have been among the most abused group of drugs in Pharmaceutical industry.
Apart from Humans even the Livestock industry rampantly misuses antibiotics – in fact animals consume more antibiotics than humans – largely in chicken and pig farms.
In his Nobel prize acceptance speech Sir Alexander Fleming predicted the onset of Antimicrobial resistance.
Bacterial resistance happens by many factors, one of which is mutation – the Bacteria changes its form so that the antibiotic does not work – this Bacteria then multiplies producing a strain of resistant Bacteria.
Why you should not start one on your own
In most developed countries in the world oral antibiotics are not OTC (over the counter) medicines – the pharmacy will not dispense without a doctor’s prescription. We are hoping that Government regulations will come in to prevent over the counter sale of antibiotics in our country to prevent their rampant misuse which will help to mitigate the high level of Antibiotic Resistance in our country.
Just one last fact to consider – ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE IS A COMMUNITY PROBLEM- IT AFFECTS ALL OF US.