Scott Varilek policy paper

Microbiology 10/6/08
Policy on Improper Use of Antibiotics Scott Varilek

In today’s world, many people are crowning themselves as doctors and are prescribing themselves their old medications for illnesses. Some may think that if they are experiencing the same symptoms as in the previous times of illness, then the same medication will work. Unfortunately, people who do this are creating antibiotic resistance for bacteria due to this unnecessary exposure. Many bacterial infections can usually be successfully treated through the use of currently know drugs, but as more time passes more and more bacteria will become resistant to the antibiotics (1). As history has shown, the drugs that treat illnesses today make them tougher to treat in the future (3). Only doctors are able to know whether the illness is caused by a bacteria or a virus. If a person doesn’t go to the doctor and has a virus, then two negatives will occur. First, the antibiotic will not successfully treat the virus because it can only kill bacteria, and second, bacteria can get more exposure to the medicine and build up resistance to it.
Today’s antibiotics target cell wall synthesis, protein synthesis, or DNA replication, which either kill the bacteria or stop its ability to reproduce (2,4,5). Antibiotics that attack the cell wall are actually inhibitors of the enzymes used to synthesize peptidoglycan (4). Mutations have allowed many kinds of bacteria to become resistant so scientists must look for different ways to attack the bacterial cell, but they are not coming up with solutions as fast as the bacteria are building resistance (2). As individuals, we must do our part to use medication responsibly as to slow down this resistance as much as possible. Doctors need to be more responsible in prescribing medication, and only prescribing as little as possible to avoid people hoarding their left over pills. Scientists need to focus their efforts on proper dosage of medication, and also new innovative ways to fight bacteria.

- All doctors will be required to attend two antibiotic seminars discussing proper dosage and the newest medications.
- Antibiotic producers will be required to reduce the shelf life of their products to a maximum of 6 months in order to try to prevent people from using left over medication for different instances of illness.
- Doctors, under no circumstances, are to prescribe a patient an antibiotic when it is clear that the illness is due to a virus. Any violation of this will result in a $50,000 fine and a 6 month suspension for possible endangerment of the patient.
- With every prescription sold, there must be a pamphlet or flyer handed out to the patient describing the dangers of reusing left over medication for different instances of illness.

Some may argue that reducing the shelf life of products would be unreasonable because it will cost too much money and possibly reduce the effectiveness of the drug. I would agree that it may cost more to develop products that are only good for a short period of time, but I believe that we have the technology to accomplish this. Also if people continue to misuse drugs then the bacteria will build a resistance against the drug anyways, thus making the drug ineffective and obsolete. Another argument against this policy would be that sometimes patients demand that they should be treated with some sort of medication even though they have a virus, which puts added pressure on the doctor to prescribe the patient medication even though he/she knows it won’t help. In response, the doctor needs to explain to the patient that any medication will not help and could possibly make the symptoms worse. The best thing for the patient to do is to let the virus take its course, and the body will heal itself. It is imperative that everyone does their part to control antibiotic resistance. By following this policy, we will be able to take a big step towards fighting antibiotic resistance.


1) Zinner, S.H. (2007, July, 30). Antibiotic use: present and future. The New Microbiologica, 1121- 7138, Retrieved 9/28/08, from
2) Dbaibo, G.S. (2000, July-August). Old and new targets of antibacterial therapy. The Lebanese Medical Journal, 48(4), Retrieved 9/28/08, from
3) Khardori, N. (2006, November). Antibiotics—past, present, and future. The Medical Clinics of North America, 90(6), Retrieved 9/28/08, from
4) Green, D.W. (2002, Feb.). The bacterial cell wall as a source of antibacterial targets. Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, 6(1), Retrieved 9/28/08, from
5) Koch, A.L. (2003, October). Bacterial wall as target for attack: past, present, and future research. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 16(4), Retrieved 9/28/08, from

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