Are drug corporations really to blame?

THE BROCK PRESS/Brittany Brooks

THE BROCK PRESS/Brittany Brooks

As H3N2 continues to elude vaccinations, doctors across the country, as well as WHO, have condemned drug companies as the true cause for this year’s vaccine-bust with treatment for H3N2 barely passing 23 per cent effective.

According to Karl Rotthier, Chief Executive of the Dutch DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, relaxed practices on the part of the drug corporations are the real cause of the problem.

“For a couple of years now antimicrobial resistance has been rising and if we don’t do anything we risk deaths of up to 10 million a year by 2050,”

Rotthier commented, further stating that, “As medicine producers, our business is intrinsically good. But we do not always live up to the responsibility we have towards society. Irresponsible behaviour is tainting the image of our industry and puts society at risk.” Rotthier also commented that the world risks “sleepwalking” into the future or a “postantibiotic era”, a clear nod to the recent trend of people openly rejecting medical treatment in favour of more naturopathic methods.

“Something once as innocuous as a throat infection could become a life-threatening condition, and treatments such as transplant surgery would become impossible” said Rotthier in a press release.

In addition to warning of relaxed drug practices, Rotthier also feels that our overconsumption of these drugs due to “poor controls”, are greatly contributing to our growing tolerance of antibiotics.

“Most antibiotics are now produced in China and India and I do not think it is unjust to say that the environmental conditions have been quite different in these regions”. Rotthier also feels that these, “Poor controls mean that antibiotics are leaking out and getting into drinking water. They are in the fish and cattle that we eat and global travel and exports means bacteria is travelling. That is having a greater contribution to the growth of antibiotic resistance than over prescribing.”

Echoing Rotthier’s words, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also expressed serious concern over antimicrobial resistance, claiming that it is a “serious threat” to all parts of the world, claiming that it, “has the potential to affect anyone, of any age”.

While the world has not suddenly grown intolerant of antibiotics overnight, nearly 25,000 people die in Europe every year due to antibiotic resistance, according to WHO.

Despite laying blame with big corporations for their poor handling of drug treatment, Rotthier feels that it is everyone’s responsibility to take the immediate steps necessary to ensure that the, “legacy of antibiotics as a life-saving medicine is not squandered”.

“In some countries antibiotics are readily available over the counter and they are being given to cattle and painted on to boats to prevent algae. We need to insist on the highest standards of environmental protection methods for producing antibiotics so no waste water and sludge ends up in our lakes.”

“We cannot have companies discharging untreated waste water into our environment, contributing to illness and, worse, antibacterial resistance. We cannot accept that rivers in India show higher concentrations of active antibiotic than the blood of someone undergoing treatment.”

Though it is virtually impossible to govern what big medical corporations do overseas, as that tends to be the reason they perform testing there in the first place, it is important, as Rotthier notes, to demand higher standards from companies who profit billions of dollars from keeping us healthy. If drug corporations want our support as consumers, they must continue to uphold the highest standards of practice, regardless of the cost.

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