The Risk of Antibiotic Overuse and Misuse

Antibiotics are generally prescribed to treat a specific bacterial infection like Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Strep Throat, Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Acne, ear infection, etc. The misuse of the same can lead to the specific bacterial resistance. In a disease-system, antibiotic resistance can be developed through transformation, transposon and by scavenging DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) remnants. Antibiotics also stop functioning when a bacteria’s self-defending system gets modified. To avoid the antibiotics some bacteria vary the structure of the target so that the antibiotic can no longer recognize it or bind to it. Sometimes they also prefer to destroy the antibiotic itself by producing a particular enzyme.

Usually, the common mistake done by people is, they stop taking antibiotics when they feel better from any bacterial infection without completing the course. This may cause more harm to antibiotic resistance, because of the disability of inert immune system to fight with leftover bacteria that can spread to other individuals. The upsurges in antibiotic resistance bacteria become a threat to the society due to the uncontrolled abuse of antibiotics.

Alexander Fleming has shared the Nobel Prize in 1945 for discovering the first antibiotic Penicillin in 1928. After that, more than a hundred compounds have identified as the antibiotic, but no new class has been found since last three decades. The lack of novel class coupled with over-prescribing has directed to bacteria becoming gradually resistant to modern medicines.

The use of antibiotics with easy access commonly without prescription is a serious issue in India. The government should positively take care of this matter seriously, otherwise within near future India will become the capital of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. India has appeared as the World’s largest buyer of antibiotics over the last 10 years. A recent report suggests that each Indian popping at least 11 antibiotic pills in a year, which is a severe risk for the society.

Antibiotic usage in the food production is also another major health concern for the world. Antibiotics are used on the farm to increase the size and weight of the animal or bird. The overwhelming need of business curves less restriction of antibiotic use in the poultry industries. In the food chain processes, those antibiotics are ultimately endangering the human lives. If the government doesn’t make the restriction from right now, by 2050, antibiotic resistance will cause more death of people than cancer and diabetes combined. The concern country like the USA, UK has already implemented a strong restriction about the use of antibiotics from the last few years.

An illustration of the causes of antibiotic resistance and possible measures that are to be implemented.

Another underlying researchable area is the safety profile of antibacterial soap, body wash, and hand sanitizer. Whether they really work or not, but they may cause different threatening bacteria resistance. The very last year U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published an article describing that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to show that “antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water”.

After all, every individual should come forward to fight this devastating threat and should take the oath to do their best for the coming generation.


1. Bueno I et al. Systematic Review: Impact of point sources on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the natural environment. Zoonoses Public Health. 2017 Dec 5.

2. Sciencedaily

3. Medlineplus.

Dr. Suman Kumar Samanta is presently working as a faculty (Scientist C) at Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology, Guwahati. Dr. Samanta did his Ph.D. (Biochemistry) from Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, University of Calcutta in the year 2013. Later, he joined as a Research Associate in the same institute before joining as a Postdoctoral Associate in University of Pittsburgh, USA in the year 2014. Dr. Samanta’s research area clubs mainly in Natural Product Chemistry; Molecular Pharmacology; Omics (Proteomics and metabolomics); Drug Discovery; System Biology; Translational research.