December 2, 2022

York scientist warns against antibiotic use


A YORK-based national charity has launched a ‘What is bothering you this winter?’ Campaign Campaign urging people to reduce the number of antibiotics they take.

Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK), led by Professor Colin Garner, former director of the Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit in York, says statistics for Yorkshire show that normally, during the winter period, the prescription antibiotics increased by almost 20%. that patients seek medication to relieve cold and flu symptoms.

But antibiotics have no impact against viral infections such as colds and flu, says Professor Garner. The problem is that the more they are prescribed, the more resistance to antibiotics increases in the population.

Data from 2020 revealed that one in five bacterial blood infections were resistant to antibiotics – and the more we use them, the worse it will be.

Many in the medical profession are now talking about a coming “post-antibiotic age” in which we can no longer rely on antibiotics to treat even the most common infections – leading to life-threatening conditions.

ANTRUK cites the case of a woman from York, who only gives her name as Vicki, to show how antibiotic resistance is affecting people now.

Vicki was admitted to intensive care with a life-threatening infection – and the antibiotics given to her didn’t work. She was able to be treated with a different antibiotic, but not until she became very ill. “I was not aware of antibiotic resistance and its causes until it was explained to me in intensive care,” she said. Serious infections can continue to be treated and lives saved. ”

Ironically, last winter, at the height of the Covid epidemic, the usual winter wave of antibiotic prescriptions in Yorkshire did not happen.

Instead of increasing nearly 20% over the winter, prescriptions only increased by 3%.

This was partly because anti-Covid isolation measures meant fewer people caught coughs and colds – and partly because fewer people went to their GPs.

But that only underscores the extent of overprescribing that typically occurs, Professor Garner said.

ANTRUK’s new campaign aims to target members of the public with the help of leaflets distributed by Well Pharmacies (formerly Co-op).

The brochures provide information on antibiotic resistance and stress that antibiotics are not effective against coughs and colds. They urge patients to “trust their doctor’s advice” and ask pharmacists for non-antibiotic treatments for colds and flu.

Professor Garner said: “The new data shows that it is possible to avoid the usual winter increase in antibiotic prescriptions. Antibiotics for most respiratory tract infections (your typical cough, sore throat, earache) do not speed up recovery times. Instead, they often give patients many side effects and promote the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. ”