The discovery of antibiotics is one of the most important medical advances of our time. So why are we squandering this life-sustaining resource?
That's the question at the center of Resistance, filmmaker Michael Graziano's new documentary about society's collective misuse and abuse of antimicrobials and how we have created an environment in which superbugs are not only increasingly common and deadly, but also unresponsive to the pharmaceuticals we have.
The film puts a human face on what can be an abstract problem, telling the stories of parents whose children have been sickened or killed by superbugs and what they felt when all the medicines available to treat their kids' infections failed to work.
But it's not only the tales of human suffering that will move you: it's the incredible history of the problem. By diving back in time — to the 1920s, when Alexander Fleming warned about resistance after discovering penicillin, or the 1970s, when Food and Drug Administration officials said this is a crisis that needs immediate action — Graziano shows exactly how long we've sat idle.
Interviews with renowned experts and scientists help explain the incredible inertia in the medical community and by the public, and why the agricultural sector has been blocking reform. Unlike other medications, the use of antibiotics affects us all, yet we have no regulatory framework in place to tackle this tragedy of the commons.
Once you watch the film, you'll think twice about the drugs you take and where you buy your food. You'll understand why public-health officials are calling the advent of superbugs — and our concomitant failure to stop abusing the drugs we have and innovate new ones — a nightmare.
To stave off the doomsday scenario, Graziano has the correct prescription. As he said in an interview, "Antibiotics are a precious resource that we must preserve, replenish and stop taking for granted."
To learn more about antibiotic resistance, read: