Superbugs – some sobering thoughts

Hi everyone,

This is a little outside what I usually put here but I thought it was important enough to warrant a post of its own.

I listened to this very interesting and scary discussion this morning about the pharmaceutical companies and their attitude to infectious disease prevention. I listen to Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast regularly on my ride to and from work and he always has top notch guests. The conversation on this episode was with Matt McCarthy, infectious disease specialist and author of Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic

We are living in a very privileged time where we really don’t need to worry about infection in the same way as pretty much every other era of human existence. In the old days, infections meant amputations and death. Now, if there is a chance of infection, we are prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics, often far stronger than required to ensure efficiency and the problem goes away, or does it? Antibiotics are sprayed on crops and injected into livestock and the bugs that they are fighting continue to evolve and get stronger.

This ‘arms race’ will continue as long as we exist but the pharmaceutical companies are not investing the time or money into finding new solutions as they are not profitable. The CEOs of these companies are responsible to shareholders; not patients. As a result, they are far more inclined to spend money on new anti-depressants or statins as these are long term things that people need. We might only require antibiotics once in a decade so it’s just not profitable. Without the research and development, we are losing ground on the bacteria, fungi and viruses and edging ever closer to the certainty of a major problem on the horizon.

This is an important subject and I feel compelled to direct people towards this conversation in order to raise awareness. You can listen by following the link below.

Sam Harris 166 – The Plague Years

Thanks for reading,


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