It is a fact that fish antibiotics are intended for fish. It’s also a fact that people are already stockpiling them. Is this safe? The following article is aimed at minimizing risks of medication reactions if the sewage does indeed hit the fan.
by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD
It’s no secret that antibiotics for treating “common bacterial infections of fish” can be purchased without a prescription. Reading the fine print, you’ll find that they are intended for aquarium use only, and are labeled, “Not for human use” (which requires a prescription, at least in the U.S.A.).
This is frustrating for survivalists, who want to responsibly prepare for future, unforeseen contingencies. How will you treat pneumonia if there are no doctors to prescribe antibiotics and no pharmacies to fill the prescriptions? Shouldn’t you have some on hand, just in case?
As a physician, I cannot argue with this position. I have prescribed long-term medications for missionaries and other travelers to foreign countries, where access to reliable medical care was impossible. How is concern about societal collapse any different? If doctors really thought Armageddon was around the corner, we’d be helping our patients prepare for future infections and potential emergencies.
Ideally, your personal physician would be sympathetic to your cause. However, many doctors are hesitant to prescribe medications when the need is not a documentable health concern. Will the FDA come breathing down their necks? Would such prescribing put their medical license – a doctor’s entire livelihood – at risk? Can the physician trust the patient NOT to use the medication unless it is the only option remaining?
So, if your doctor won’t prescribe a supply of antibiotics (which I emphasize is the best choice), and you don’t have the option of traveling out of country to purchase them, and you don’t want to deal with questionable web sites, what do you do?
Surely you don’t want to purchase antibiotics adulterated with who knows what. Surely it’s a good thing that the FDA seeks to assure safety of medications indicated for our children and loved ones.
Yet in your heart of heart, you believe it is in the best interest of your family for you to find a legal source of antibiotics, just in case society really does collapse. Could fish antibiotics be the answer?
Hesitantly, oh so hesitantly, I answer . . . maybe.
Knowing how to use an antibiotic is one thing. Standard dosing information is readily available from many resources. Still, this requires a fair amount of medical knowledge, beyond that of the average American. Yet this can be learned from reliable sources, and medical textbooks are not limited to medical professionals.
The bigger question is safety. Are these fish antibiotics really manufactured for fish only, or do they perhaps come off the same production line as those manufactured for human use? Could the fillers (the inactive ingredients) be potentially toxic to your little girl, or are they the same ones you’d find in brand-name human medications?
This information is hard to come by but not impossible to find. For preppers who wonder if certain fish antibiotics are appropriate for human use, the following sequence outlines helpful online research you can do to answer your own questions.
- Find a retailer whose advertising features an image of the medication in mind.
- Check the color and imprint of the medication using a pill identifier such as that at drugstore.com.
- View additional pill details, searching for the manufacturer.
- Next find the manufacturer’s home website and search for products.
- Under products, search for the same medication with the same imprint and appearance.
- Make sure the product lists “USP” and “AB Rated.” The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) sets standards for prescription and OTC drugs manufactured or sold in the U.S. An AB rating indicates that the generic in question has been proven to meet bioequivalence to a reference standard (which is generally the brand name drug).
Drugs that meet this standard would appear to be the same as those manufactured for humans. If you cannot ascertain the above, then all bets are off.
Having antibiotics on hand and knowing how to use them are two separate things altogether. If today’s medical system or society as a whole collapses, antibiotics should be reserved for life-threatening infections (and not the drippy nose you’ve had for a week). When you’re forced to be your own doctor, you’ll need to understand how to think like a physician.