A Final Follow Up About Antibiotic Use and Chronic Disease: Poverty and Low Cost

Last week, I had a couple of posts about why I think antibiotic use is higher in the Obesity Belt (which could also be called the Smoking, Diabetes, and Kidney Disease Belt). I didn’t directly mention what is a significant underlying factor here: poverty combined with low cost. That shouldn’t be surprising, since antibiotic misuse is also rampant in developing nations which often have severe resistance and misuse problems.

So why is poverty a barrier, in the U.S. at least, to antibiotic use? Because antibiotics are cheap. Most antibiotics are off-patent, and a short course (4-6 doses) can be very cheap, often no more than $1-2 per dose. In the U.S., even poor people can scrape together that money. That’s before people try other solutions, like acquiring the veterinary forms of some antibiotics. Combine this with a need for antibiotics, and I think this explains much of the pattern.

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