A new report published November 17 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases comprehensively examines the global threat of antibiotic resistance and argues that high-level, coordinated international action is necessary combat this urgent danger. The report comes in time with European Antibiotic Awareness Day and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ‘Get Smart About Antibiotics Week‘ campaign.
CDDEP director Ramanan Laxminarayan is the lead author of the report’s opening segment, which discusses the overall burden of resistance worldwide. Many studies show that bacterial resistance is rapidly increasing globally, with an especially concerning rise in health-care associated infections (HAIs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The burden of resistance can be defined in three broad categories, the segment argues: illnesses that last longer and are more fatal, higher costs associated with treating these illnesses, and the inability to do procedures like surgery and chemotherapy that rely on effective antibiotics. In LMICs, where expensive second-line drugs may be out of reach, increased mortality among infants is an unfortunate consequence of these issues.
Antibiotic use is of course a major driver of resistance. Global consumption is on the rise, aided by the fact that many antibiotics remain cheap and available over-the-counter in countries like India, Pakistan, and Egypt. Patient demand and financial incentives – like direct compensation to doctors from drug sellers – can influence prescribing practices and drive up unecessary use. Futhermore, antibiotic use in animals, which accounts for 80% of antibiotic sales in the U.S., remains largely unregulated worldwide.
As the report section concludes, “A global system for surveillance of antibiotic use and resistance and its health and economic burden is urgently needed.”
Other segments of the report cover topics such as antibiotic use in animals, solutions for greater political coordination to tackle resistance at a global scale, new financing systems for drug development, and the role of research institutions, industry, and policymakers in driving drug discovery and antibiotic stewardship programs.
The report ends with a compelling call-to-action from lead commission author Professor Otto Cars, of Uppsala University in Sweden and ReAct Action on Antibiotic Resistance. Cars commens in a Lancet press release, The causes of antibiotic resistance are complex and include human behaviour at many levels of society; the consequences affect everybody in the world. Within just a few years, we might be faced with unimaginable setbacks, medically, socially, and economically, unless real and unprecedented global coordinated actions to improve surveillance and transform the way antibiotics are regulated and developed are taken immediately.
To speak with Ramanan Laxminarayan, please contact [email protected] or call (202) 328-5152. To interview other authors of the commission, please reach Daisy Barton, media relations manager at The Lancet. E) [email protected] T) +44 (0) 207 424 4949 [office] / +44 (0) 7920 592 635 [mobile]