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The Drugs Don't Work: A Global Threat (Penguin Specials) Paperback – 19 Sep 2013
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A horror story . . . A startling and disturbing read (Scotsman)
Gets across a single point with devastating effect . . . A highly important message that, for a start, every MP and GP should be reading (Popularscience.co.uk)
If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again (David Cameron, Prime Minister)
About the Author
Professor Dame Sally Davies is the Chief Medical Officer for England. She is a haematologist with specialist research interest in sickle cell disease. But in her advisory post she guides government decisions on diverse subjects such as superbugs, drug trials and obesity. She developed the National Institute for Health Research in 2006 with a budget of £1 billion. She is an Emeritus Professor at Imperial College.
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Top customer reviews
We start with a stark little story of life in the 2040s when all the antibiotics have failed and even what appears to be a harmless throat infection could result in isolation and death. Davies then takes us swiftly through the history of antibiotics and the various nasties we have to face up against.
In case it's not obvious by now, the theme is that our over-use of antibiotics is resulting in growing resistance building up in more and more diseases. At the same time, there really isn't a lot of work going into the next generation of drugs, as it isn't a hugely profitable thing for pharma companies to do.
Left with only the current facts we are presented with a dire situation, particularly for the next generations. However, Davies does come up with a range of possibilities for making things better, from the simplest aspects like washing our hands more effectively through to means to encourage production of the next generation of antibiotics. The trouble is, these positive bits seem to me to be primarily filled with the optimism of the scientific professional, rather than a reflection of the political reality. Specifically, I think unless we see Bill Gates and his equivalents pouring vast amounts into the research we won't get very far until things start going horribly wrong. For instance, the use of antibiotics in animal rearing should be clamped down on at draconian levels worldwide, but politicians have fudged it again and again.
But whether or not you take solace from the practical suggestions, and the rosier picture of the future the book finishes with, there is no doubt that this is a highly important message that, for a start, every MP and GP should be reading. And wash your hands. Right now.
We can do simple things for ourselves to try and help the situation which the author tells us about in her book like for example with regards to cleanliness and hygiene, after going to the toilet the author says:
"In order to kill off the bugs, all it takes is fifteen to twenty seconds of vigorous hand-washing with soap and water – this is about how long it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ twice through."
This book is well worth reading.
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