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Antibiotic Overdose

Antibiotic OverdoseTheoveruse of antibiotics, says a Tufts expert, could have disastrouseffects, prompting one major food company to phase out their use.OakBrook, Illinois

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.31.03] In the 60 years since antibioticswere first introduced, the drugs have been heavily prescribedby doctors and widely used for a broad array of purposes - fromcreating new household cleaners to raising bigger livestock. Buta Tufts expert says overuse of antibiotics is dangerous, evendeadly, prompting some corporations, including McDonald's, tophase out their use of the drugs.

"Everyoneworries about the enemy states creating agents of terror, butwe're doing a good job ourselves at creating potential healththreats," Tufts’ StuartLevy, M.D., told the New Scientist, assessing thegrowing problems of excessive antibiotic use. "I advocatethat we see antibiotics as very precious drugs."

Accordingto the Tufts medical professor, overuse of antibiotics has dramaticallyreduced their effectiveness.

"Theycould wipe out about 99 percent of bacterial infections,"reported the Los Angeles Times. "But as each newclass of antibiotics was introduced, the bacteria eventually outwittedthe drugs and evolved into more resilient strains."

Scientistsand some corporations have begun to take notice.

Last month,McDonald's announced a new policy requiring its meat suppliersto phase out the use of human-medicine antibiotics in their animals.

"It'sa tremendous step in reducing the pool of drug-resistant bacteria,"Levy, director of the Centerfor Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at TuftsUniversity School of Medicine, told the Los Angeles Times.

Levy, whois author of "Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of AntibioticsDestroys Their Curative Power," says McDonald's new policywill likely impact other companies because the international corporation"sets a standard for a large amount of other products weconsume."

But policychanges like those adopted by McDonald's are not enough, Levysays.

"[Unlessdoctors and patients learn to reduce their dependence on antibiotics]we are going to continue to lose the battle and will see moreand more bacteria with more and more resistance into the nextdecade," Levy told the New Scientist.

 

 

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