Humans and antibiotics have had a good run. These “miracle” molecules have saved millions of lives and and alleviated incalculable suffering around the globe. But in the last few decades, as millions of tons of antibiotics were indiscriminately pumped into humans (and farm animals), the pace of bacterial evolution began to outstrip pharmaceutical innovation. Today, nearly every disease-causing bacteria has acquired defenses against these drugs. As the world’s armory of effective medicines draws down, humans are running out of time to either change the behaviors that got us here, or come up with radically new treatments.
But breaking habits is hard, as a new study shows. According to an analysis of more than 19 million privately insured outpatients in the US, published today in The British Medical Journal, one in seven people were prescribed at least one course of pointless antibiotics in 2016. Extrapolated [...]