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The supersized medicine spoon

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Antibiotic resistance could be killing more people Antibiotic resistance could be killing more people than cancer by 2050

I remember the kid at school who was asthmatic. He was always wheezing, had a lot of days off and carried an inhaler, which seemed quite exotic. Today I know a lot of kids with them, largely unused beyond the odd flare up caused by a chesty cold.

The definition of ‘asthmatic’ has shifted, and some clinicians think it’s too liberal. Inhalers have now become ‘a fashion accessory’, which is an idea in itself. I’m sure a Versace or Gucci one would fly out of the Knightsbridge branch of Boots, but I digress.

There’s a wider question about whether we give out too much medicine now, or was it just too little in the past. For asthma inhalers, it’s a low stakes game. They do provide relief for kids who 30 years ago wouldn’t have got them, and if there are any side effects they’re pretty minimal.

There’s a cost question of course, but in the UK this is relatively small. Overall NHS waste is estimated at £2 billion – not to be dismissed but small beer in a budget of £120 billion. But it’s the harm of too much medicine that should concern us. Take our penchant for handing out antibiotics. The government recently reported that anti-microbial resistance could be killing more people than cancer by 2050, as overuse makes our old standbys obsolete. Is it time to use discretion as readily as the scrip pad?

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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