I caught the 15 minute drama on BBC R4 today (The Truth About Hawaii) and, to my surprise, it was a post-antibiotic apocalypse story. A ten year old girl gets a scratch on the knee that develops into a serious infection that without antibiotics has become life threatening. The Prime Minister is personally involved in enforcing a restriction policy for the last remaining antibiotic. And, as with pretty much every other Radio 4 drama, a happy ending seems unlikely.
It’s reminiscent of a similar doomsday story in ‘The Drugs Don’t Work‘ by Dame Sally Davies (the Chief Medical Officer). But is this scifi or a glimpse into the near future? Well, I tend to think more scifi than doomsday-just-around-the-corner. Yes, we are coming towards the end of antibiotics. But true pan-drug resistance remains very rare indeed. And I wonder whether some sort of natural equilibrium will be reached, where complete pan-drug resistance isn’t beneficial if you happen to be a bacterium, even if selective pressure is strong. Still this show is well worth a listen. Unless you happen to have a 10 year old daughter – in which case it may be a bit too much!