When Good Discoveries Go Bad: Antibiotics

Bacteria are a type of prokaryote that are absolutely everywhere in the world, from dirt to food, and even inside other living creatures. In the past 60 years, scientists have developed some incredible drugs, called antibiotics, to fight bacterial infections. These drugs have saved millions of lives.

There is, however, a downside to the development of antibiotics, their overuse. Since the late 1970s, antibiotics have been prescribed more and more, and for less and less serious infections, which has led to many bacteria developing a resistance to these drugs. When this happens, bacteria very quickly lose their vulnerability to these antibiotics, leaving humans once again susceptible to infection.

For this reason, many people think that the over prescription of antibiotics by doctors and their addition in products like antibacterial soaps and kitchen wipes, have led to the evolution of “superbugs” that cannot be killed by normal antibiotics. Others take a different view, believing that antibiotics are chemicals like any other, and they should be allowed to be prescribed at-will and included in household products.

  • Do some research and describe at least one specific example where antibiotic overuse has resulted in a negative effect.
  • What was the effect of this overuse?
  • How could this have been prevented?
  • What do you think about antibiotic regulation?
  • Who should be in control of regulating the use of antibiotics, if anyone and why?
  • You happen to have a mild head-cold during your annual physical. You doctor says that she can give you some antibiotics to treat it. Based on your research, what would your response be? Why or why not would you fill the prescription? 400 words. References and citations required.
  • Textbook ref: Ireland, K. A. (2010). Visualizing human biology. John Wiley & Sons.
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