Unethical Online Pharmacies Are Fueling The Rise Of ‘Superbugs’

Global growth of unregulated over-the-counter and Internet sales of precious antibiotic medicines is further fueling the rise of deadly, drug-resistant “superbug” bacteria, according to a UK government-commissioned review.

In recent decades, bacteria resistant to multiple drugs have evolved at the same time as drugmakers have cut back investment in finding new ways to fight them, creating a global health threat as superbug strains of infections like tuberculosis and gonorrhea have become untreatable.

In a report published on Friday amid international alarm about the discovery in China of a gene that makes bacteria resistant to all known antibiotics, former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill said the threat is exacerbated by patients self-medicating with drugs from online pharmacies.

He called on governments, regulators and Internet companies worldwide to clamp down on unlicensed Internet sales of antibiotics and to improve monitoring of drug quality.

“Even in those countries where it’s next to impossible to buy antibiotics over-the-counter in a shop, it’s still often the case that an unscrupulous online pharmacy is just a few clicks away,” O’Neill said in a statement with his report.

Chinese and British scientists said on Thursday they had found new gene in samples from people and animals that makes bacteria highly resistant to a last-resort class of antibiotics known as polyamine’s. [ID:nL8N13D343]

He said it was “frankly alarming” that even antibiotics as powerful and important as colitis, one of the polyamine class, can be bought online without any need of a prescription.

“These internet drug stores could be based anywhere in the world, so it’s vital that regulators – along with the industry, customs organizations and internet companies – work together to crack down,” he said.

Over-the-counter sales of antibiotics are illegal in most countries, and in some parts of the world these laws are well enforced, O’Neill said.

But the use of antibiotics without a —> Read More