Issue Date: September 26, 2011
Battling Antibiotic Resistance
The pharmaceutical industry is in a continuous battle against bacteria that develop resistance to antibiotics. There are many ways bacteria develop resistance; some, sadly, are caused by unwise actions of humans. A recent letter (C&EN, Aug. 1, page 4) and editorial (C&EN, June 6, page 5) critically discuss the use of low levels of antibiotics in healthy farm animals. These antibiotics are used for growth promotion, but they increase the amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment.
Another questionable use of antibiotics is in the now commonly sold antibacterial soaps and other antibacterial household products. These products are marginally effective, but they can lead to the formation of antibiotic resistance, including cross-resistance, in the environment.
So it’s particularly disturbing to find the suggestion that “students should wash their hands … using … antibacterial soap” in an otherwise good paper in the pages of an ACS journal (J. Chem. Educ., DOI: 10.1021/ed100447n). The use of such products should be discouraged, not encouraged.
The increase of resistant bacteria is a serious concern and should not be abetted by unnecessary human actions.
By Stewart Karp
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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