pervasiveness of antibiotic-resistant infections can transform hospitals into
health threats due to the increased presence of MRSA and other common, yet
dangerous, infections. 54
Rather than blame, there needs to be greater accountability for healthcare
safety practices at the systemic level. The medical community should address
how to better improve adherence to simple, yet effective approaches to
safety, including hand-washing, checklists, and personal protective
equipment monitoring to avoid the pitfalls that place healthcare workers at
risk when treating patients with infectious diseases. Then, we will be able to
comfortably rely on established health and safety protections.
4. Factory Farming & Meat Products
Antibiotics have been administered in livestock for nontherapeutic
purposes, namely to promote the growth of livestock for human consumption,
without any investigation into potential consequences. 55 Starting in the late
1940s, livestock have been subjected to sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics
simply so that they can grow larger, known as the “antibiotic growth effect.” 56
With the increase in “factory farms” in the early 2000s, this issue was
exacerbated, as it is nearly impossible to prevent the spread of disease among
animals kept in such close quarters. 57 Food-related Salmonella and E. coli
outbreaks suggest that these diseases may be passed to humans when the
animals are slaughtered and eaten. 58 In addition, resistant bacteria can spread
from food animals to humans through manure and other environmental
factors. 59 For these reasons, subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock is a
primary factor contributing to antibiotic resistance. 60
5. Pharmaceutical Innovation & Patent Law
The research and development (R& D) of new antibiotics has sharply
54. See Lauren Orrico, Squashing the Superbugs: A Proposed Multifaceted Approach to
Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, 27 J. OF L. & HEALTH 259, 269 (2014).
55. See Jay P. Graham et al., Growth Promoting Antibiotics in Food Animal Production:
An Economic Analysis, 122 PUB. HEALTH REPS. 79, 80 (2007) (explaining the health concerns
and lack of testing for animal antibiotics).
57. See Factory Farm Nation: How America Turned its Livestock Farms into Factories,
FOOD & WATER WATCH 2 (Nov. 2010), http://www.factoryfarmmap.org/wp-content/uploads/
2010/11/FactoryFarmNation-web.pdf (“Crowded, unsanitary conditions leave animals
susceptible to disease, drive the overuse of antibiotics and hormone treatments, and can
contribute to foodborne illnesses.”) [hereinafter Factory Farm Nation].
58. See Karen Florini & Rebecca J. Goldburg, Playing Chicken With Antibiotics, 22
ENVTL. F. 22, 23–24 (2005) (discussing the rapid spread of disease and the resistance of
59. Factory Farm Nation, supra note 57, at 2.