Antibiotics can't cure colds – but a placebo may

The news that doctors are under pressure to prescribe antibiotics for colds and flu offers a tremendous opportunity to make complementary medicine work for us all. The Health Protection Agency has just released a survey showing that antibiotics are overprescribed because the public believes they will cure colds and flu.
The problem with antibiotics for colds and flu is not just that they don't work. If that were all, they would be only a waste of money. But the long-term danger is that they will spread antibiotic resistance, which really would kill very large numbers of people. The spread of organisms like MSRA in inadequately cleaned hospitals could lead us back to the state that prevailed for most of history, where a hospital was where you went to die, not to get well. A European report reckons that antibiotic resistance could soon cost €1.5bn to combat.
The view we have today that medicine works the way that magic ought to is pretty new. The expectation that doctors will cure us has only really taken root in the last 50 years, and although it is often wonderfully well-justified, it brings its own problems. A huge amount of any GP's time is taken up with people who are unhappy and perhaps unwell, but for whom no medicine exists.

Source  - Guardian

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