Ethical Implications Of Strategies Addressing Drug Resistance Require ‘Careful Consideration’

Project Syndicate: The Ethics of Fighting Drug Resistance
Christian Munthe, bioethicist and professor of philosophy at the University of Gothenburg

“…[T]he ethical roadmap for addressing [drug resistance] remains dangerously ill-defined. Health care policies that pursue long-term goals often have short-term costs for human, animal, and environmental well-being. … [E]thicists, health care researchers, and social scientists have begun to examine how best to ensure that strategies for tackling drug resistance are ethically responsible. … These scholarly gatherings have helped to foster academic interest in the ethical considerations of drug resistance, but represent only a tiny fraction of what is needed to help the world safely navigate the looming moral minefield. Any effort to restrict antibiotic consumption, regulate the food and pharmaceutical industries, or change human behaviors — all strategies that are currently being discussed — will require complex ethical reflection and analysis. … As drug resistance-related challenges become more urgent, one might think that ethical debates are an unaffordable luxury. But, given the risks implied by deploying ill-considered solutions, careful consideration of the ethical implications of drug resistance strategies is essential” (2/12).