Antibiotic Resistance Has Become a Global Pandemic

Major medical breakthroughs under threat from loss of antibiotic efficacy
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A concerted international and national response, behavior change by consumers and providers, and the development of antibacterial agents are all urgently needed to tackle the global problem of rapidly increasing antibiotic resistance, according to an article published online Sept. 18 in BMJ.

Otto Cars, M.D., Ph.D., of Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, and colleagues write that although over a dozen new classes of antibiotics were developed from the 1930s through the 1960s, only two new classes have been developed since, and that the pace of antibiotic resistance has increased as resistance genes now travel faster and further due to airline travel and global distribution of food, as well as poor hygiene in hospitals.

Tackling the problems of antibiotic abuse, bacterial resistance and the decline in research into new medicines requires a concerted global response, without which the world will be propelled back to the pre-antibiotic era, and will see a roll-back of major milestones in modern medicine such as major surgery, organ transplantation and cancer chemotherapy, the authors note.

"All antibiotic use, appropriate or not, 'uses up' some of the effectiveness of that antibiotic, diminishing our ability to use it in the future," the authors write. "For current and future generations to have access to effective prevention and treatment of bacterial infections as part of their right to health, all of us need to act now. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing."

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