Superbugs are strains of bacteria that are resistant to several types of existing antibiotics. In our days antibiotics are among the most frequently prescribed drugs. They are used to treat from the common cold to infections. This extensive consumption of antibiotics led to diminishing their effectiveness in treating diseases.
The European Parliament is taking an interest in the subject and they are proposing a restriction on prescribing antibiotics to the population as well as the development of new and stronger antibiotics. That is why superbugs is the IATE term of this week.
Besides being the most common prescription drugs, antibiotics are given to livestock to prevent disease and promote growth.
What happens when we take more antibiotics than necessary?
When used in the right amount, antibiotics destroy the disease-causing bacteria, but when taken in excess, these drugs destroy a wide variety of other bacteria in the body, including the “good” ones that help the body digest food, fight infection and basically stay healthy. Over time, the body develops a resistance to antibiotics and the “bad” bacteria have a chance to spread and even pass to other people.
If more and more people take antibiotics when not necessary, drug-resistant bacteria can continue to thrive and spread. They may even share their drug-resistant traits with other bacteria. Drugs may become less effective or not work at all against certain disease-causing bacteria.
What is the European Parliament doing?
“The fight against antibiotic resistance must start on farms. We wish to prohibit the purely preventive use of antibiotics, restrict collective treatment to very specific cases, prohibit the veterinary use of antibiotics that are critically important for human medicine and put an end to online sales of antibiotics, vaccines and psychotropic substances. Thanks to these measures, we hope to reduce the amounts of antibiotics found on consumers’ plates”, said rapporteur Françoise Grossetête (FR), member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
To encourage research into new antimicrobials, MEPs advocate incentives, including longer periods of protection for technical documentation on new medicines, commercial protection of innovative active substances, and protection for significant investments in data generated to improve an existing antimicrobial product or to keep it on the market.
Written by Raluca Caranfil
Communication Trainee at TermCoord
Journalist & Student at the University of Luxembourg