Counterfeit antibiotics feed evolution of super bugs

Super bugs such as the flu change every season. You can’t kill all the flu cells in the body. The strongest survive, and they reproduce. The next flu season comes and they are immune to past antibiotics or have strong resistance. This produces super bugs, and one day scientists predict and fear that a strain like the 1918 pandemic which killed over 50 million people may come back.

What else feeds this evolution? Counterfeit antibiotics. A counterfeit antibiotic usually has a lower dose then the real one. This creates resistance in the users body, but not enough to get rid of the bug. So when the user gets the real pill or injection, it may have little to no effect. Now this host can spread the bug/cold/flu that is immune or very strong to antibiotics to other people.  This is a increasing problem in the developing world and leads to many deaths.

Antibiotics now rank among the most counterfeited medicines in the world, feeding a global epidemic of drug-resistant superbugs.
The threat is already spurring a strong response from drugmakers such as Pfizer Inc. (PFE), the U.S. maker of the Zithromax antibiotic, which has been focusing its anti-counterfeiting efforts on online pharmacies, collaborating with Microsoft Corp.

“Because the demand is so high for antibiotics, it’s not unusual to see those who falsify these products concentrate on them,” said Michael Deats, head of the WHO’s drug safety and vigilance team, in a telephone interview.

With genuine medicines already losing potency against bacteria, the surge of counterfeits is particularly troublesome for public health leaders trying to curb the march to what the WHO has referred to as a post-antibiotic era in which everyday infections can kill.

How it feeds resistance in the body

“Substandard medicines can create resistance such that the bona fide medicine can’t treat the patient when he gets it eventually,” said John Clark, chief security officer for New York-based Pfizer’s fight against the counterfeit drug trade. “It’s a horrific situation.”

Taking these antibiotics? Don’t buy them online. Go to a docter.

Similarly, fake antibiotics are just as likely to reach patients in the U.S. and Europe as in poor countries through online pharmacies. Of more than 10,000 online outlets surveyed last year by the U.S. National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, 97 percent were out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and standards.

While I have never had the flu in my life, and I hope it stays that way, I am truly worried about the future of antibiotics.



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