Friday, January 18, 2008

Pollution and Antibiotics

When discussing the third world and antibiotic drugs, most people focus on the misuse that commonly leads to the rising dilemma of antibiotic resistance in these countries. The fact that third world countries are often major manufacturers of United States generic pharmeceuticals is often overlooked. In fact, pharmeceutical imports from China and India make up 40 percent of all bulk drugs used in the United States. This figure is predicted to rise to as high as 80 percent within the next 15 years.

So how does this drug manufacturing affect the third world? While I assumed that such production may be beneficial to these countries and there ability to supply antibiotics to their own populations, such is not the case. Mishandling and a lack of effective antibiotics in these countries is still prevalent but now is accompanied with another major problem: toxic waste.

Lets look at India, the United States' largest importer of pharmeceuticals. Toxic waste from drug production plants is polluting their rice paddies and hindering agriculture, infectecting their water and killing livestock, and has been blamed for the higher rates of cancer that exist in villages surrounding such plants. The discharge found in water supplies from pharmeceutical production plants, "in one Indian region show concentrations of antibiotics and other drugs at 100 to 30,000 times the levels considered safe".

For more about the pollution problems in third world countries due to antibiotic production Click Here. It is pretty ironic to think that not only do antibiotics create stronger and smarter strains of disease, but that their production commonly leads to pollution that is further detrimental to health.

1 comment:

John Latto said...

I'm pleased that you found an example of antibiotic misuse that I didn't include in lecture but depressed that you found yet another example of antibiotic misuse.....