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The article “Biotech signs deal to take on ‘superbugs’ ” (Business, Oct. 16) misses the big boat on which we are all sinking. Yes, we’re “running out of effective antibiotics,” as noted. But the solution cannot feature developing more, and more expensive, drugs. We can do something less costly that would be a common-sense move.
Approximately 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the United States go to produce meat, and the drugs are often dispensed to healthy animals. Why? Crowded and unsanitary conditions put animals’ health at risk, and dosing them with antibiotics enables this gross practice.
Antibiotics are meant to be given in precise doses to treat specific infections. When they’re used on a routine basis by farming operations, it increases the likelihood that bacteria resistant to the antibiotics will grow and spread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Much of the antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate, and makes everyone less safe.” Doctors are also overwhelmingly concerned. In a poll released by Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) and Consumer Reports, 93 percent of doctors said they were concerned about the practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals. In addition, 85 percent of doctors said that, in the last year, one or more of their patients had a presumed or confirmed case of a drug-resistant infection.
I’m no Luddite; I know that medical advances are crucial to our well-being. But in this case, before we are sold a bill of new-drug goods, let’s get factory farms to shape up.
Janet S. Domenitz
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