The End Of Modern Medicine: CDC Reports Millions Faced With Drug-Resistant Bacteria And Rising Death Toll As Washington Ignores The Emerging Crisis

250px-The_Doctor_Luke_Fildes_cropWe have previously discussed how Congress and the White House continues to spend hundreds of billions on foreign wars without pause but have failed to address an emerging global threat to humanity: antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. It is part of the lunacy that governs this nation. We spend wildly on wars while largely ignoring a threat that could endanger the entire population. Recently, Thomas Frieden, director of the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, put it in the starkest terms to try to get someone to pay attention. Indeed, Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, has warned that we are moving into a “post-antibiotic era.” That means “an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

The CDC has been presenting data on the rise of bacteria resistance to carbapenems, the most powerful antibiotics that represent our final line of defense. CDC is reporting the appearance of the bacteria now in every state and what it describes as the realization of the “nightmare” scenario for the medical field. Frieden puts the estimate now at over 2 million Americans with infections each year that are resistant to antibiotics. Of those, at least 23,000 people die as a result. To get perspective, we have been waging wars for over ten years at a cost of over a trillion dollars after 3000 were killed by Islamic fanatics. Almost ten times that number are dying each year from this crisis and we are looking at an exponential increase. Yet, few members of Congress have even mentioned this threat or the need for a “war on resistant bacteria.” It just doesn’t get you the same popularity and votes as demanding more defense appropriations. While money has been gradually increased in recent years, it is still a fraction of our appropriations given to pork projects and war efforts.

In the meantime, our politicians will do what they have repeatedly done: they will ignore the warnings and wait for a pandemic. We make fun of the Taliban barring vaccinations, but do relatively little in the face of the loss of antibiotics that are the backbone of modern medicine.

Once we are faced with a rising death toll, they will suddenly act and spend wildly long after the point where the crisis might have been avoided. After all, who needs modern medicine when there are wars yet to be fought. Members only recently expressed frustration in facing public opposition to entering the Syrian war. Bacteria research does not feed the massive lobby in Washington behind defense contracts or produce photo ops in front of ship launchings. Indeed, preventing a crisis does not give you any immediate political benefits. They know that they will not be blamed for the crisis that could have been avoided and can cite to past appropriations as evidence that they did something, albeit not much.  They did relatively little to stop the use of antibiotics in livestock or the overuse of antibiotics by physicians that have fueled drug-resistant bacteria.  After all, the agricultural lobby is an immediate threat.  A pandemic is still an abstraction.

Besides, modern medicine is so last century.

Source: Washington Post

48 thoughts on “The End Of Modern Medicine: CDC Reports Millions Faced With Drug-Resistant Bacteria And Rising Death Toll As Washington Ignores The Emerging Crisis

  1. Fighting antibiotic resistance would necessitate going up against big Pharma and big Agra. That isn’t going to happen any time soon. It is a travesty.

  2. Conspiracy Theory Time: When I was a graduate student, I attended a few faculty conferences/’retreats’. A visiting professor gave a speech on how he came to the conclusion that HIV/AIDS is one of many ‘man-made’ viruses/diseases created to ‘curtail’ the population growth in the world.

  3. Big pharma and big government don’t make enough money on silly things like life saving medicine. It’s the repeated use stuff that gets all the attention. Pharma loves the viagra, rogaine, statins, acid reflux stuff since it’s such a money maker. Antibiotic research is not profitable enough to justify the cost. Politicians are in the hip pockets of big pharma and it’s a free market afterall, so why the worry. When it’s needed it will be developed. And try prying defense dollars from the hands of defense contractors for a push to save humanity from the scourge of infection. Ain’t gonna happen. Guns and tanks are easy money makers and again the politicians have an easier time scaring the country with words like Al Qaeda or terrorism than they do by saying infection resistant bacteria, which doesn’t carry the same fear response.

    Maybe if the child of a senator or high profile congresscritter is harmed by infection resistant bacteria, then maybe a few more dollars will be made available, but it will take the death and suffering of millions before a soulless congress takes action.

    Oh, and don’t forget GOP and many conservative Dems are trying to cut government budgets, not enlarge them. They could care less how many suffer their ignorance.

  4. When my kids were little they had the normal preventative health care regimen. When they had a more annoying illness that they “caught” in school, my pediatrician would make a diagnosis, then more often than not, say, “a little baby aspirin and some soup and a storybook.” I was usually fuming because I just wanted a “cure” as soon as possible. In retrospect, I now channel that doctor’s (Woodward) wisdom. As grown ups their immune systems are strong. They normally recover quickly from a “bug.” Dr. Woodward used to say, oh yes, this is all the rage this week. Not to worry, this will pass. Get on the soup and the storybook…..

  5. Our duopoly has devolved to each party tries to scare their base w/ phony crises, and they ignore the real ones. Plus, as Dredd led off w/ big Pharma is complicit and they own both parties.

  6. Go to a rural feed mill and look @ the shelves. They’re stacked w/ Costco sized vials of antibiotics for farmers to shoot their livestock as prevention of disease. Eat a cheeseburger and you get a double dose of antibiotics. Go kosher, @ least you’ll only get a single dose.

  7. The Tea Party shutdown of the government furloughed over 8000 workers at the CDC. The NIH also was forced to furloughed thousands. Crippling these agencies and having private industry (big pharma) in charge seems to be their goal. They also want to shutdown the EPA and let industry police itself with regards to pollution.

  8. patsylvania, Great point. Part of this problem is out obsession w/ disinfectants. George Carlin did a hilarious bit about immune systems and how they need to get into shape, just like our muscles. Don’t use your muscles, they atrophy. Don’t use your immune system by having every bacteria killed, well when your body gets a bacteria[and it always will], it won’t know what to do. Kids need to get dirty, get their immune system healthy. We were also blessed w/ a great family doc who had the same philosophy as yours.

  9. There is an interesting book, THE RIVER, which traces a possible evolution of AIDS/HIV. I do believe we had a hand in this condition of antibiotic overdose. Now that their potency is failing, we will need funding to apply to this world crisis and research is imperative!

  10. SWM, How ’bout a chant, “The Tea Party is killing our children.” You are in full 2014/16 mode, woman. Pace’s a marathon not a sprint. I understand your point, but please!

  11. Maybe the U.S. Supreme Court, under Citizens United, will criminally prosecute these corporate officers, attorneys and lobbyists as “corporate persons” in a tort case!

  12. patsylvania, AIDS/HIV was not handled like any other epidemic because of the political sensitivities. However, once folks started dying en masse the scientists took over and started treating that epidemic as just that, and not a political issue. Hopefully it was a lesson learned.

  13. Nick, Booker defeated a Tea Partyer last week. Mcaullife needs to defeat one in a couple weeks. Those furloughed workers in Virginia are not too happy with the Tea Party.

  14. Our current science czar John Holdren along with the Erhlics professed 40 years ago that if population measures were not put into effect the outcome would be more than man could bare. They wanted to put stuff in the drinking supply to sterilize people. Not so far fetched that aids/hiv was invented to rid the world of Africans as it appears the rate was higher amongst blacks even though it was suppose to be a gay thing. Couldn’t catch aids unless you were gay or lived in Africa.This is a dream come true for those who believe in population control. Look at China and how well they are doing with that. They are going to die off in mass numbers because they can’;t even breathe the air.

    We don’t need another billion people so let war disease and more natural disasters commence. The less people on Earth the better. Get rid of all the undesirables. Put them in front of the health panel at let them decide if this person has lived a desirable life and whether they are worthy of treatment. If not send them to the burn heap as soon as they are diagnosed with any disease.

  15. The CDC and NIH are doing this all wrong. They should start a campaign proclaiming these bugs are socialist. They don’t care about money. they attack the rich same as the poor. These bugs have no respect for religion either. They are Godless. Good christians are attacked with the same virulence as “others” . Also they cross borders freely embedding themselves in America with no respect for our “exceptionalism”

    “These Godless Socialist Foreigner Bacterias need to be stopped”

    There you go CDC & NIH, problem solved. :o)

  16. SWM, Virginia is a dynamic state. Conventional wisdom seems to have the Clinton butt boy winning. I hope your guy wins. As we discussed, they’re both sleazy, so in my book it matters little. It obviously matters to you, so good luck.

  17. If anecdotes are true too many docs, in the pursuit of expediency, give antibiotics when they shouldn’t. Then add the antibiotics given to the animals in the food supply and it is no surprise there is a problem.
    Until the sick with pneumonia and other antibiotic resistant diseases are rich enough to buy the politicians it won’t be an issue for those in congress.

  18. leej, Docs are getting better @ not prescribing antibiotics where not warranted. However, defensive medicine is still a big problem. If a pediatrician makes a mistake on a child, by not prescribing antibiotics when they should have, the liability is huge! There is nothing in Obamacare to deal w/ defensive medicine, a pernicious problem.

  19. What has to be done is for doctors to develop backbones, as well as medical societies and state licensing boards, and go after the bad do.
    Public Citizen estimated 15% of docs cause 85% of the malpractice. (In my case a defensive test showed that what happened most probably would happen but no one bothered to read the test results until after the surgery and the paralysis of face. Med society didn’t care, state didn’t care and docs said “I won’t testify against him”)
    I would speculate a lot of these defensive tests are ignored. Defensive treatments may well cause harm, as opposed to no effect, resulting in harm and liability..
    ACA can’t deal with that, how can it say “you can’t practice ‘defensive’ medicine.

  20. leej, It’s done w/ REASONABLE reforms. Not draconian caps. A graduated “loser pays” would help. I don’t like caps, but a high cap, would help somewhat. There are NO reforms in Obamacare. Plaintiff’s attorneys made sure of that.

  21. Loser pays penalizes those who can’t afford a good lawyer, (even if contingency often have to pay costs upfront) and those who lose because the jury didn’t listen to the testimony but wanted to believe the doc no matter what. I don’t have time to find the cite but 85% lose the case no matter what.
    In my case the doctor perjured himself and it was proven. (The case was nonsuited. I was Pro se too long to go into but I rested the case, gave up, once he changed his testimony as I was prepared for his first lie not the second one. Pa superior court returned case for retrial because they found he had testified perjuriously.) I asked a juror who they believed. She said “The doctor.” It wasn;t worth my time to ask her which time, the first lie or the second?
    Loser pays is not the way to fix this. It further victimizes too many victims of med. mal.
    Tort reform benefits those who committed the malpractice, not those who were hurt/killed.

  22. @leejcaroll – I just happen to do a study on this when working for lTV a number of years back. About 100,000 people die each year of various upper respiratory infections due to misdiagnosis and mis-prescribing of drugs. The allopathic and alternative medical community disagree on the solutions. For me I’ve gone with the alternative and have not required any antibiotic or other big pharma drug solutions over the last 30 years. It’s sometimes a bit disconcerting and fearful to take the non-conventional approach but life requires a long list of individual decisions and 100,000 people obviously make the wrong one each year in North America. I’ve just finished treating a skin cancer on my leg with a non-conventional approach and once again it turned out very well. I have the Irish skin, lived and worked portions of my life in the So. Florida sun and golf frequently with arms and legs exposed. Many of my golf buddies do the conventional methods of having them cut out and they are still doing find as well. Life is often times an experiment and I hope I’m making the right decisions. I shot an 83 last Friday with 2 birdies, 4 doubles and won a decent portion of the $600 pot. That’s 3 over on 14 holes and 8 over on just 4 holes, for those that golf. Not bad for a 61 year old.

    Obamacare of me would appear to take away money from people who would normally contribute to their alternative medical healthcare of high quality food, herbs, minerals, nutrients and cleanses. Just started taking MSM, a sulfur derivative that feels like it is significantly helping minimize my muscular acts and pain by somehow neutralizing the lactic acid crystals that cause the inflammation and soreness. If anyone is feeling like they have arthritic symptoms, you might want to try this stuff. Available at most health food stores from a variety of companies. However, always consult your allopathic Doctor if you want to hear the “real” truth about healthcare. It cost a lot to maintain their country club memberships and BMWs so they really do need your business.

  23. Rep Alan Grayson is the extremist. This country is headed for disaster and the Tea Party is trying to prevent it by being fiscally conservative.

  24. Obummer is as much to blame for the shutdown as anyone. How’s that Obama Care working out for you. Wait until that panel of non doctors tell you that you can’t have that life saving operation you need.

  25. The medical profession and non-compliant patients are to blame. What’s been the defacto regimen for minor sickness over the past 50 years?
    1) Get sick.
    2) Go to doctor.
    3) Doctor prescribes broad-spectrum antibiotic without much diagnostic effort.
    4) Patient takes three days worth of bacteriostatic pills.
    5) Patient feels better as immune system response catches up to infection, stops taking pills.
    6) 99.99% of infectious units are eradicated, leaving small portion of mutated drug-resistant bacteria to be released to wild.
    7) Mutated drug-resistant strain strengthens with repeated exposure to antibiotics and becomes dominant wildtype rendering antibiotic ineffective.

    Vaccines could be very useful here, but not enough time, effort, and money is going into vaccine research and as long as the general public is comfortable with getting its medical advice from the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey vs. the CDC, we’re doomed.

  26. leej, We have discussed your case and you have all my empathy. It is an emotional subject for you as is the hitting women w/ me. Here’s all I want to say. A GRADUATED loser pays will not do away w/ contingency. If the plaintiff reaches a threshold of proving the defendant was 40% negligent, then no attorney fees would need be paid. If the plaintiff makes it up to proving the defendant 30% negligent, they pay half of the attorney fees. Less than 20%, they pay full. Those are just arbitrary numbers and percentages. leej, I have worked BOTH sides. I have been a plaintiff in a personal injury suit. I have never been sued. Hopefully, I never fill in that final slot on my dance card.

  27. hsk, Interesting. I saw a report on ESPN about injury recovery by athletes. They talked about supplements that are legal and I think one of them was MSM?

  28. @Dredd “Thank you Big Pharma.”

    And thank you big Farmers.

    So how much additional product do antibiotics add to meat production? What would the price of hamburger be without antibiotics?

  29. Don’t just thank “big pharma.”

    80% of antibiotics used in the United States are used in livestock.

    To make all the cheap meat Americans want, animals are kept in close quarters under stressful and often unhygenic conditions. The antibiotics used in factory farms are prophylactic.

    These antibiotics enter the food supply not through butchered meat, but through agricultural runoff and through manure used as fertilizer for other crops.

    If you really want to do something about this, take a look at your diet. You’ll all probably just blog about it though. Nobody ever changes their behavior. Even people who think politics are broken expect electoral politics to fix things for them.

  30. What a perfect time to begin importing chickens from China. A little deadly salmonella with your salad, anyone?

  31. Pandemic is to terrorism as a rogue state nuclear bomb is to a so called “assault weapon”. In both cases we spend far too much time, energy, money and media attention fretting about the minuscule issue as the giant threats continue to loom ever larger. As DNA manipulation becomes something that can be done in any decent university – truly monstrous bioweapons can be created by sheer accident; hell – gene swapping by microbes makes that true in nature already should the wrong microbes manage to get into intimate proximity. Our national “defense” funding priorities in this country are mind bogglingly ignorant of what the true threats to Americans health, well being, and way of life really are. No country poses a serious threat to us with bombs, missiles or guns… Not by a long shot – but our infrastructure, our cybersecurity, our food supplies, our health, the environment, our government system, and our civil liberties are all at great risk and so very little (in comparison to defense) is being done about those problems and what little is being done is quickly cut in times of budget woes.
    Dangerous times ahead – mixed up priorities.
    But that’s what we get from our corporate controlled legislatures I guess…

  32. Phages are a real alternative in some cases.

    Certainly we do not have a functioning govt. I truly believe people must pool our money and fund things that will help people, as we are able. That is not the best solution but it may be the only one available to us. Elected officials do not represent the common good or welfare. They are well paid lackeys, short term “thinkers”, (and I actually agree with that one woman who said they were all of the devil!:)

    Antibiotics in animal feed is causing a huge problem, more so than over prescription by doctors.

  33. One of the economic facts of life for Big Pharma…
    There’s no incentive to develop antibiotics – one script and you’re done. They prefer the drugs for chronic diseases – ones that you will use for the rest of your life.

  34. Jill, There’s no control over farmers buying antibiotics for their animals. They just walk into the feed mill store and buy what they want.

  35. Remove government from our lives, except for a few essential services. Were this achieved, results & solutions will be found for everything. Stop the silly wars of course, but even before that is the heinous crime against liberty called Income Tax that must be abolished like the Plague.

  36. Bruce Many people, including myself, have already seen benefit from the ACA. Many are finding the cost f insurance going down through the exchanges. As for ‘death panels” your insurance company does that when they decide whether or not to give you permission to have a treatment or surgery. There is no “death panel” under the ACA, there is no forcing you to not see the doctor of your choice unless you stay with your HMO, Your HMO now forces you to only see the doctors they allow. You need to learn about the ACA rather then parrot the lies, distortions and exaggerations of the tea party and the GOP.

  37. Nick, I know we have talked about my case. Your idea would never make it through I think any legislature because attorneys on both sides would never have it.
    Breaking it down into percentages as you showed 40% vs 60 % etc is ultimately arbitrary even using arbitrary numbers for your example.. That seems to be even a bigger gamble then taking a contingency case where you have to prove beyond a preponderance. Who decides what percentage was proven?
    I have always felt that this should not be in the courts, Med mal should be an arbitration/mediation effort with both doctors and laymen on the panel.
    As long as the “thin blue line” remains in tact and it is a game of law rather then just the facts there will never be a way for there to be fairness for either defendant or plaintiff.
    I hope that card stays incomplete, Nick. (:

  38. leej, More and more med mal cases are being handled via arbitration or mediation. I agree, that is a good way to handle many of these lawsuits.

    Regarding my loser pays %’s. Firstly, the burden of proof is preponderance of evidence. It’s a civil case and that’s the way it is, and should be. In all states[I believe], in a civil trial, the jury assigns %’s of fault for the plaintiff and defendant. However, how those %’s are handled vis a vis the judgment vary. These variations change. My state of Wi. has changed a couple times, I think, during my tenure. Dem state legislatures pass pro plaintiff rules, Republican, pro defendant rules. There are/were a few states that have/had the most pro defendant rules. Alabama and Maryland are 2 I remember off the top of my head. But again, it’s always changing. These rules, which I consider unfair, say if the plaintiff is even 1% @ fault, they recover NOTHING! In other words, you sue someone for a car accident. You had the right of way, you were not speeding, another drive just pulled into the intersection and T-Bones of the more common scenarios. The jury hears the evidence. They say the defendant was 98% @ fault. However, you’re an older woman and the jury thinks if you were a bit quicker w/ your reflexes, you could have either avoided the crash, or more likely just lessened the impact a bit. The jury says you’re 2% negligent. YOU GET NOTHING.

    Most states have modified comparative negligence and it can be complicated. But, a common rule is this. Same accident, jury assigns the same %’s, you get 98% of the award. That’s fair. Many states have the rule that if you don’t convince the jury the driver who T-boned you was @ least 50% negligent, then you lose. In a T-Bone that’s not going to happen, but in a lot of accidents liability is pretty close. I’m saying use those same %’s for loser pays. If it’s a close liability. Let’s say the jury comes back that you were 55% @ fault, and the other driver was 45%. Well, you don’t collect but it was a legit case so no attorney fees would be assessed. But, let’s say the case was a dogass and the jury says, no leej, you were 75% @ fault and the defendant was only 25%. Then, you pay the defendant’s attorney fees. I would also have parameters where a plaintiff would pay maybe half attorney fees if say they were found 65% @ fault.

    This is just raw, rough musings. I doubt it would ever happen.

  39. I had a secretary to Sen Warner hit my car in DC, She totaled it. It was obvious it was her fault, either ran a red light or just plain speeding. The insurance company said based on what I told them, they never saw the car, the cops never came, thought we waited 3 hours,, and was before camera phones. I told them the story again but they said you 1% therefore in DC a no fault state you were responsible and they paid nothing. My car wasn’t worth going to court and it never occurred to me I could. I just accepted what they said (dumb me)
    The problem with your solution is that it keeps poorer plaintiffs out of court, who cannot pay an attorney absent a contingency arrangement of all or nothing.
    I am in process of suing a home inspector who didn’t disclose dangerous knob and tube wiring. 3 lawyers actually lost me the initial statute of limitations. Now it is a somewhat harder case because of what has to be pled. I could not find an attorney I could afford. Absent suing I lose about 50,000 when I try and sell the house since I cant afford to do the necessary fixes. One attorney who was ready to take the case charged contingency of 40% but then he made it much worse then that. If he recommended a settlement, any amount, and you refused, even if it was a ridiculous low amount, you would then have to pay his hourly fee of 450$ from the onset of his taking the case.
    I am now Pro Se. My financial situation doesn’t allow for the 250$ – 450$ an hour to pay an attorney. (Legal aid won’t take it if there is a potential monetary award and where I live they are the only venue for lowcost/nocost legal help).
    The same situation would apply if I had a med mal case and there was the potential that I would have to pay legal costs at the end of the day. As long as you have juries made up of people who need to truth their doctors too many cases will be lost or blame assigned at a high level to the plaintiff so that the jurors can maintain their belief doctors are honest and good and don’t actively try and hurt patients.

    As per the original post maybe if doctors rose up and started making noise about this (of course and also stopped prescribing antibiotics when unnecessary) the media would start paying attention, and ultimately the rest of us.

  40. leej, My plan would not do away w/ contingency fees. It would make a plaintiff’s attorney look closer @ liability and prevent lawsuits that have no business in court. There are too many lawsuits w/ limited auto damage, questionable liability, and large, inflated doc bills. My career started before attorneys were able to advertise. I’ve been around. Since attorney TV ads have become ubiquitous, the number of lawsuits have exploded. leej, Most of the work I did was defendant/insurance company. However, I also worked many plaintiff cases and found them some of those most rewarding. I am NO lover of corporations or insurance companies. But, we’ve become too litigious. We need to find that “sweet spot” where injured people can get good representation but cut down on lawsuits that have no business being filed.

  41. Re lawyers advertise. My lawyer won the Phen fen case (I did not know he was doing it at the time he had my case) I hired him because we went to high school together and I remembered him as a kid with integrity. You know the story of forcing me into settlement so won’t go into it but I took it to fee dispute. They found in my favor, “awarded me money amd thenn wrote their decision wa sin favor of attorney. The attorneys on the fee dispute committee made a big deal of “Why didn’t you hire a lawyer who advertises when I said I went to Mike because I knew him and knew no other attorneys.” They felt it was fine to advertise. (I disagreed with it then in 95 and I continue to disagree with it. I don’t think they should advertise. Part is because they do seem to want to take any case no matter what the facts. A new ad is about ‘even if the accident was your fault come talk to us so we can sue the other guy.”
    The problem is even the ones that every business to be in court can be found against the plaintiff no matter how strong the proof (again, the doc in mine actually perjured himself and the juror still “believed” the doc. Had it gone to verdict I would have been found the liar, my proof ignored so they could find in favor of doc. The judge did not like that I was pro se and made rulings I have been told were against the rules of evidence). Even with an attorney they wanted to find for the doc. A cabbie told me and this I believe was also the issue, “the hospital is the largest employer here. You will never win against any of our doctors.”
    I agree with you there are too many lawsuits. I am appalled at some of the lawyer advertisements. (My lawyer when won Phen fen was quoted in a newspaper saying some of the claimants in the class action did not have the defect for which Phen fen was being sued and they received payment as members of the class.) I personally know of someone who won where her contributory negligence was substantial. (It went to settlement not jury).
    Something has to be done. I think the idea of penalizing the party when it is proven the case is frivolous would help to stop a number of lawyers from proceeding. It always comes down to hurting someone in the pocketbook (sadly. Would be nice if instead it was integrity that kepp these cases out of court or even being arbitrated, etc))

  42. Pharma has been leaving the antibiotic stage. This is an area where government and the nonprofit sector have to quickly enter the breach.

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