Common Tragedies

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Archive for the ‘Drug Resistance’ Category

Extending the Cure

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on March 9, 2009

Some of our colleagues at RFF who study antibiotic resistance using an economic framework now have an official blog for their project, Extending the Cure.

From ETC research assistant (and blogger) Maya Sequeira:

Extending the Cure recently launched a blog. The project, ETC for short, is housed here at RFF and frames the growing problem of antibiotic resistance as a challenge in managing a shared societal resource. The inaugural report of Extending the Cure provides an objective evaluation of a number of policies to encourage patients, health care providers, and managed care organizations to make better use of existing antibiotics and to give pharmaceutical firms greater incentives to both develop new antibiotics and care about resistance to existing drugs. It sets the stage for continued research in the form of technical papers and policy briefs to prevent the impending health crisis of widespread antibiotic resistance. The blog will cover issues from global health to antibiotic production and prescribing to strategies to address collective action dilemmas more generally.

You should check it out; it presents a good variety of analyses looking at resistance in an economic framework.

For an earlier CT post outlining discussing resistance, see this one by Sarah Darley.

Posted in Blogroll, Drug Resistance, Public Health | Leave a Comment »

The Carnivore’s Dilemma: Antibiotic resistance

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on January 29, 2008

The NYT had an article on Sunday about the various consequences of eating meat. We’ve all heard about the impacts eating meat has on climate change, which are impressive:

“Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius.”

The article also points out an oft-forgotten externality associated with high-density livestock containment: antibiotic resistance. Keeping livestock in close confined quarters makes them considerably more susceptible to disease. Hence, farmers load them up with non-essential antibiotics to quell these problems (and to aid growth) and we can end up with resistant strains of bacteria.

Sarah Darley’s valuable discussion of antibiotic resistance as a global ToC can be found here.

H/T: JT and Tyler Cowen (whose post has an interesting take on animal welfare).

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Resistance is futile: the new war on drugs

Posted by Sarah Darley on November 8, 2007

In her Oct. 19 post to the Center for Global Development’s Global Health Policy blog, Ruth Levine likens drug resistance to global warming. Dr. Levine has provided not only a useful framework for thinking about the problem of drug resistance but also the push that I needed to craft Common Tragedies’ first public health post (along with some prodding from Daniel Hall).

Dr. Levine notes the following shared characteristics between drug resistance and global warming:

  • Both are a result of profligate overuse of a precious resource (fossil fuels, the ability to kill harmful bugs) without mindfulness about long-term consequences.
  • For both, we’ve created a situation in which the commercial interests are largely lined up against better resource management and mitigation measures. The power of markets and the private sector is not yet marshaled toward making the situation better. The energy sector makes money on oil not conservation; the pharmaceutical industry may see few gains from taking steps to ensure the long-term effectiveness of low-margin, first-line drugs.
  • For both, the government has a crucial role to play in regulation and in providing incentives for better resource management – and in both cases governments have been slow to take on those tasks. Particularly in low-income countries, public officials may also see that actions to mitigate long-term damage have a near-term cost for economic development (if energy conservation is required) and improvements in health conditions (if it’s necessary to slow drug access until stronger systems to ensure adherence are in place).
  • Both can be ameliorated only with a combination of significant behavior changes (by consumers, health care workers, patients) and technological developments (energy-efficient cars, solar power, new diagnostics and drugs).
  • For both, understanding the severity and causes of the problem, and the feasible solutions is only possible if we think about the planet as one world, with global goods – and bads – that call for collective action.

Much of the recent Common Tragedies banter has centered on policy responses to climate change and, in particular, the relative merits of carbon taxes versus cap-and-trade programs. Given the similarities outlined by Dr. Levine, one might ask whether potential policy solutions to drug resistance might mirror some of the policy options on the table for global warming.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Change, Drug Resistance, Public Health | 1 Comment »