Scorched Earth: after the medicines disappeared

Robot, apocalyptic future


They said the world would not war again. They said we had already had two and that was enough. Yet here we are, 20 years on and still dealing with the repercussions of that historic day. The signs were all there: Equifax’s catastrophic data breach, Facebook and Google constantly mining information about every aspect of our lives. It’s amazing that we could not see it, that we did not want to see it.

We first lost ourselves to technology. When the internet disappeared, society crumbled. We did not realise how dependent we were until the cord was brutally severed. It told us where and when to be, the medicines we needed to take, illnesses we were developing and even when we should go to the toilet.

Next we lost our power. So many endless nights filled with darkness and the cold, bitter days biting our skin. Rumours spread that some government buildings got power within the first month of it going out. For everyone else, it was more like 12 months, although it felt much longer.

We thought that was the end of it. Then it happened. It was said they were made to keep us safe. The first ones were dropped on the largest cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, the list goes on. The population of what was called the United Kingdom, now Area 11, is thought to be around 80,000. Some countries are believed to no longer exist, bereft of any life.

Most of the pharmacists, doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff were wiped out on the frontline. We are the wretched few, the last 1,500 or so that can ‘effectively’ treat the remaining population, although most of us feel that it’s a battle with a predestined fate. I just get on with my work every day, as I have done for the past 15 years. The only break I get is to sleep.

The glacial pace of medicines production and development means that most people can’t get it in time. What good is our knowledge if we are unable to treat people? Simple, easily treatable infections in the ‘Old World’ (that’s what people call the time before the war) now purge freely. We are devoid of new antibiotics to fight back. The originals were overused to treat the injured. It’s funny, because there was a time when we called them ‘superbugs’; now they’re just bugs. We try to teach the remaining generation what we have learned, but I don’t think I will witness the result.

We have lost the skills to make medicines from plants with our dependence on the pharmaceutical companies of old. We had shot ourselves in the foot without realising it. But at least we can still provide lifestyle advice. Sleep hygiene? Definitely, now power is rationed. Healthy eating? If the scraps given had nutritional value. That is just skimming the surface. So what do we do now? More pertinently, what will you do to save us from extinction?

Kartik Dravid, fourth-year pharmacy student, De Montfort University.

Kartik’s piece was placed second in the Preregistration Pharmacist and Student category of our 2018 writing competition ‘Future Pharmacist’. Read more entries here.





Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Scorched Earth: after the medicines disappeared;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205116

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