Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, scientists have amassed a medical arsenal of more than 130 antibiotics. The drugs have prevented soldiers from losing limbs, and mothers from dying during childbirth. With access to antibiotics, parents no longer worry about losing their kid to an ear infection or bad scrape.
But now antibiotics are everywhere — not just in orange pill bottles, but in the food given to pigs, cattle, and chicken. And the more the bugs interact with antibiotics, the quicker they evolve defense mechanisms.
At least 18 strains of bacteria have evolved into “superbugs,” becoming resistant to most of our drugs. And pharmaceutical companies, more interested in profitable blockbusters like Viagra and Zoloft, haven’t developed a new class of antibiotics in 25 years. We’re dying because of it. More than 23,000 people in the U.S. die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. By 2050, an estimated 10 million people worldwide will die by superbug.
After two decades of warnings from the scientific community, the problem is finally getting serious attention. In his 2016 budget proposal released today, U.S. President Obama threw $1.2 billion at tackling the antibiotic-resistance crisis — nearly double the amount allocated last year. If approved by Congress, this money will go toward screening soil samples for new antibiotics, reducing the drugs in livestock feed, boosting hospital surveillance, and, perhaps, making phage therapy a viable option in the U.S.
Read full, original article: Mail-Order Viruses Are The New Antibiotics