January 15, 2014 Liz Borkowski, MPH 3Comment

A few of the recent pieces I’ve liked:

Ken Ward Jr. in the Charleston (WV) Gazette: Why wasn’t there a plan? Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill and State ignored plan for tougher chemical oversight (also check out opinions on the West Virginia chemical release from Deborah Blum at Elemental and Tom O’Connor at National COSH)

Jia Tolentino interviews MacArthur “Genius” Grant-winning statistician Susan Murphy at The Hairpin. (“Susan Murphy is a statistician developing new methodologies to evaluate treatments for chronic and relapsing disorders like depression and substance abuse.”)

Alexander Zaitchik at Salon: Big Ag’s big lie: Factory farms, your health and the new politics of antibiotics

Maryn McKenna at Superbug: Can Antibiotics User Fees Force Down Drug Mis-Use and Overuse?

Becca Aaronson in the Texas Tribune: Providers Face Obstacles in New Women’s Health Program (via Reporting on Health)

3 thoughts on “Worth reading: West Virginia chemical release, antibiotics in agriculture, and using statistics to tackle substance abuse

  1. The way to cut antibiotic abuse is to unceremoniously put ABs on FDA Schedule II, right next to morphine. Agricultural abuses (non-veterinary uses) would also be treated like illicit use of Sched II drugs. Problem solved.

    This hits close to home for me, having had the winter holidays largely ruined by a c.diff. infection following use of clindamycin after dental surgery. Mad dash to the loo a few times each night, and at one point four times an hour during the day. Thankfully fixed with a trip to a local GP and a prescription for Flagyl in time to get on the airplane, though it would appear that there’s still “something” going on in my guts a few weeks later.

    For this we can thank agricultural abuse of ABs, for breeding nastier strains of c.diff than we used to carry around back in the proverbial good old days, and for breeding far deadlier strains of various bacteria going around.

    Schedule II: not a moment too soon.

  2. “Problem solved.”

    Well, various ag lobby groups will be along to suggest it’s not that simple:

    “Research and surveillance evidence suggests that eliminating antimicrobial use in beef production will have clear negative health consequences for cattle with no obvious benefit for human health.” — Beef Cattle Research Council (Canadian example because that’s what I’m familiar with.)

    My impression is that in Canada we’ve had somewhat more regulation of agricultural antibiotics than the US. This issue is being discussed regularly in the media, and it almost always includes a statement like the one above from an industry group. I think they’re ramping up to fight this tooth and nail, and meme #1 is there’s “no obvious benefit for human health” if we *regulate* agricultural antibiotic use more stringently.

    I already see it as frank denial of science regarding antibiotic resistance, so we’ll see where that goes.

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