• Question: can medicines be substituted or is it a case of find a new way to cure people?

    Asked by lewis to Rachel on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rachel Hardy

      Rachel Hardy answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      It depends on the situation really. Some diseases like schizophrenia and depression have lots of different drugs available to treat them. Patients respond differently to each drug. Therefore, if one of these drugs is not effective or has bad side-effects in someone, they can be switched to one of the other drugs available. For diseases like cancer, different chemotherapies are available. If one is not effective in a patient, we can try another one. However, many diseases do not yet have a cure (all of those I mentioned before, as well as dementia and Parkinson’s disease). This means that scientists are still searching for new drugs to cure these.

      Drugs cannot be substituted, in the sense that we will always need a medicine to treat a lot of diseases. For example, illnesses like cancer will not go away without drug treatment. However, we do not necessarily need medicines for illnesses like depression. Other methods such as counselling and behavioural therapies can be useful. Another good example is the use of antibiotic drugs. These should be strictly used for bacterial infections only, and not given for infections caused by a virus (no drugs are normally given). Scientists are currently working on finding a new ways to treat bacterial infections, to substitute antibiotics and prevent resistance developing. It really does all depend on the disease 🙂 I hope this answers your question – send me another if I have misunderstood or not answered clearly.

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