The antibiotic myth

 

medication

There’s a programme on the radio this morning about the history of antibiotics. It was quite interesting while they were talking about the discovery of penicillin, but I’ve just had to turn it off.

Because, as I knew they would, they’ve got to the bit about antibiotic resistance all being our fault. “People became addicted to antibiotics” is how they phrased it.

By which they mean the following dialogue, which I know you recognise because you’ve played the part of the villain many many times:

Patient: Doctor, I have a cold and I really need antibiotics to cure it.

Doctor: I’m very sorry, but antibiotics don’t work against colds so they’re really not appropriate. I suggest you take an over the counter painkiller, drink plenty of liquid and rest.

Patient (threateningly): But I insist on having antibiotics! If you don’t give me antibiotics now, I’m going to get very very angry!

Doctor (cringing): No, no, please don’t hurt me! Here! (scribbles prescription and hurls it across the desk at the ravening patient)

 

I don’t know what the point of this myth is – although my cynical side tells me that it’s to distract us from the agricultural use of antibiotics which mean that most of us are being subject to constant low-level doses whether we want to or not – but isn’t it about time that the media stopped blaming antibiotic resistance on ordinary people? If there’s ever been over-prescribing of antibiotics for inappropriate uses, surely that’s down to the people doing the prescription, not the poor bloody patients?

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