Penicillin was discovered 90 years ago – and despite resistance, the future looks good for antibiotics

 

by Professor Alastair Hay
Professor of Primary Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care

When the NHS turned 70 this year, I was reminded of another anniversary which has had an enormous impact on healthcare over many years. Penicillin is 90 this year.

Discovered in September 1928 by Alexander Fleming, it was first used as a cure when George Paine treated eye infections with it in 1930. A method for mass production was devised by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain in 1940, and it was first mass produced in 1942, with half of that total supply used for one patient being treated for streptococcal septicaemia.

In 1944, 2.3m doses were produced in time for the Normandy landings of World War II. And it was then that the miracle of penicillin became clear. Soldiers who had previously died from septicaemia were surviving.

Expectations rose. If penicillin could cure septicaemia, what … Read more

Why are so many children given antibiotics for a cough?

Christie CabralBy Dr Christie Cabral
Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

When I first started researching infectious cough in children, lots of clinicians told me they couldn’t understand why so many parents brought in children who were well enough to turn the consulting room upside down before they even started the examination. As a parent of two young children myself, I had some idea, but as a qualitative researcher, I was keen to get a balanced view.

In the TARGET Programme* we wanted to answer two questions. Given that most coughs will get better on their own:

1) Why do so many parents consult when their child has a cough?
2) Why do so many clinicians prescribe antibiotics for children with coughs?

We conducted five qualitative studies and began to notice common themes, not just across the studies but also shared by parents and clinicians. We found normative beliefs Read more