Muscle atrophy, radiation, micro meteorites...the list of maladies that can harm or kill astronauts is a long one. Sadly, it appears as though it just got one item longer.

According to scientists at the Johnson Space Center, the new problem facing future space explorers—perhaps on a Mars mission or beyond—is that drug effectiveness declines at a faster rate in space.


Chief amongst the drugs that lose effectiveness during prolonged spaceflight are paracetamol (headache med) and antibiotics. The worst case scenario is clear: Should an astronaut get an infection on a trip to Mars, the antibiotics that work so well on Mother Earth would not work so well on the long haul through the unforgiving ether of space.

Further research is necessary, or so the usual science story caveat goes, including whether or not other diseases that are readily treatable on Earth get a second wind in space because their corresponding medication loses its punch as well. Thirty-five meds were tested on the ISS already, and most saw their effectiveness reduced during a variety of 13-day and 28-month stays. Not good! [BBC]


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