An article in today’s New York Times profiles the trials and tribulations of young twenty-somethings who lack health insurance. For some it’s out of hubris, but for most it’s because they fall through the cracks–paid enough that they don’t qualify for public health care but still lacking the means to afford health insurance of their own. It’s pretty sad, and it’s a stupid result of America’s wacky health care system (a system around which many high hopes have been pinned to President Obama to effect some real change).
As stupid as this situation is, though, it pales in comparison to the utter stupidity of this gem from the article:
Ms. Polec’s roommate, Fara D’Aguiar, 26, treated her last flu with castoff amoxicillin–“probably expired,” she said–given to her by a friend.
I’d like to think that this Times writer has a particularly subtle sense of irony, but just in case the face-palm-ness of this has escaped anyone’s notice: ANTIBIOTICS ARE TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE AGAINST A VIRAL ILLNESS LIKE THE FLU!!!
Not only will taking unnecessary antibiotics not do anything beneficial in this case, doing so actively contributes to the growing scourge of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Also, it probably goes without saying that taking prescription medicines not prescribed to you is never a good idea. Not correctly following a course of antibiotics doesn’t just affect you–it affects everyone. The fact that this person’s friend had part of an unfinished course of antibiotics just sitting around hints at how widespread this problem is.