Misuse of antibiotics is a serious threat
Over the past couple of decades, the use of antibiotics around the world has grown at an increasing speed, and so has resistance to antibiotics. In many cases, unnecessary use could be prevented by taking a CRP measurement before a course of antibiotics is prescribed.
Antibiotics save lives, but misuse reduces their effects and causes serious problems to health. “It is estimated that antibiotics have increased our life expectancy by twenty years, and they are necessary in many cases, such as after surgery. But antibiotic resistance is causing as many as 700,000 premature deaths around the world, which is why antibiotic misuse should be stopped right now,” says Minna Ekoluoma, Product Manager at Orion Diagnostica.
Antibiotics still prescribed too easily
In antimicrobial resistance, bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. This has been caused by antibiotic overuse, taking too low a dose or stopping a course early. And it is not only people but also farmed animals that have been overprescribed antibiotics, even for purposes other than medical treatment.
“Antibiotic resistance correlates strongly with the level of antibiotic use,” says Gabriella von Flittner, Vice President Marketing, Orion Diagnostica.
When antibiotics no longer work, there may be no other simple treatment available. “What makes it even worse is that new antibiotics aren’t really introduced any longer.
There simply aren’t any effective antibiotics left for serious infections, such as tuberculosis, as the bacteria have become resistant to most of them,” von Flittner says.
Furthermore, antibiotic overuse can be harmful to health in other ways. Antibiotics cannot choose which bacteria they eliminate but also attack those that boost immunity. Therefore, it is recommended to take lactobacilli with antibiotics.
A CRP test to help decision-making
Antibiotics are vital for us, and therefore they should only be prescribed when they are necessary for the treatment of a patient. Doctors make diagnoses based on symptoms, and a CRP test result helps to assess the need for antibiotics. “As a rule of thumb, if CRP is over 100 mg/l, antibiotics should be prescribed,” von Flittner says.
CRP is easy to test with a point-of-care testing device that analyses a drop of blood taken from the fingertip in two minutes. “Every health centre should have this type of device. The test result will also help the doctor explain to the patient why antibiotics are not needed,” Ekoluoma says.
Orion Diagnostica manufactures QuikRead devices for CRP testing, and so far, a total of 50,000 devices have been sold to 60 countries.
Visit the new website about tackling antimicrobial resistance, http://www.tackleamr.com/.
Text: Johanna Paasikangas-Tella