We are facing a global pandemic of antibiotic resistance, warn experts

September 19, 2008

Vital components of modern medicine such as major surgery, organ transplantation, and cancer chemotherapy will be threatened if antibiotic resistance is not tackled urgently, warn experts on bmj.com today.

A concerted global response is needed to address rising rates of bacterial resistance caused by the use and abuse of antibiotics or "we will return to the pre-antibiotic era", write Professor Otto Cars and colleagues in an editorial.

All antibiotic use "uses up" some of the effectiveness of that antibiotic, diminishing the ability to use it in the future, write the authors, and antibiotics can no longer be considered as a renewable source.

They point out that existing antibiotics are losing their effect at an alarming pace, while the development of new antibiotics is declining. More than a dozen new classes of antibiotics were developed between 1930 and 1970, but only two new classes have been developed since then.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the most important disease threat in Europe is from micro-organisms that have become resistant to antibiotics. As far back as 2000, the World Health Organisation was calling for a massive effort to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance to prevent the "health catastrophe of tomorrow".

So why has so little been done to address the problem of resistance, ask the authors?

Antibiotics are over prescribed, still illegally sold over the counter in some EU countries, and self medication with leftover medicines is commonplace.

There are alarming reports about serious consequences of antibiotic resistance from all around the world. However, there is still a dearth of data on the magnitude and burden of antibiotic resistance, or its economic impact on individuals, health care, and society. This, they suggest, may explain why there has been little response to this public health threat from politicians, public health workers, and consumers.

In addition, there are significant scientific challenges but few incentives to developing new antibiotics, state the authors.

The authors believe that priority must be given to the most urgently needed antibiotics and incentives given for developing antibacterials with new mechanisms of action. In addition, "the use of new antibiotics must be safeguarded by regulations and practices that ensure rational use, to avoid repeating the mistakes we have made by overusing the old ones", they say.

They point out that reducing consumer demand could be the strongest force to driving change—individuals must be educated to understand that their choice to use an antibiotic will affect the possibility of effectively treating bacterial infections in other people.

But, they claim, the ultimate responsibility for coordination and resources rests with national governments, WHO and other international stakeholders.

Not only is there an urgent need for up-to-date information on the level of antibiotic resistance, but also for evidence of effective interventions for the prevention and control of antibiotic resistance at national and local levels, while more focus is needed on infectious diseases, they conclude.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Researchers find genetic defences of bacteria don't aid antibiotic resistance

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5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2008
It should be instructive that this article on the development of antibiotic resistance through the overuse and misuse of antibiotics does not even mention the tons of antibiotics the animal food industry puts in feed stock every day.
not rated yet Sep 19, 2008
It is the cycle of death, evil and injustice.

1. Design antibiotics.
2. People who can pay for it use it until bacteria become resistant and more aggressive.
3. Resistant bacteria kills antibiotic user (sort of justice while the user first benefit from it and now kind of pays the price). However the bacteria also goes to remote places and kill people who never used it and was never able to afford to buy this antibiotics anyway (injustice)
4. People who can afford it, design better antibiotics to save themselves. This antibiotics is much more expensive (they justify the cost by saying that it is the research that must be paid which is kind of his own salary)
5. When person who never used antibiotics in third world is not able to buy gets infected by resistant bacteria and asks for the new cure. He is charged the exuberant high price. He can't pay and dies

Logic Conclusion:
Innocent people are charged high prices for the cure of a bacteria, by people that designed this bacteria, who also themselves benefit from the design of the cure.
They can't pay so they are told: sorry you will die, and they do die.
(By the way this a a definition of evil)

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