Antibiotic Resistance A Ticking Time-Bomb

11 Mar 2013

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The British Government's Chief Medical Officer is warning of "a dreadful future for our children and grandchildren" unless global action is taken to prevent diseases from becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said diseases are evolving faster than the drugs we have to treat them.

In the second volume of her annual report, she described the problem as a "ticking time-bomb" and calls for it to be put on the Government's National Security Risk Assessment register, alongside terrorism and severe weather, reports Sky News.

She said routine operations such as hip replacements or organ donations could pose deadly risks in just 20 years' time if we lose the ability to fight infection.

Dame Sally has made 17 recommendations to politicians and policy makers including better hygiene in schools, hospitals, care homes and public places.

She also called for better protection of our current stock of antibiotics and is urging GPs to prescribe antibiotics only when absolutely necessary.

"We all have a role to play. And as a public we need to accept that many infections that take us to GPs or keep us at home, don't need antibiotics," she said.

"So if a GP says 'no you don't need an antibiotic', please don't demand an antibiotic and put ridiculous pressure on GPs.

"All it's doing is building antimicrobial resistance and we're giving a dreadful future to our children and grandchildren."

A new infectious disease has been discovered every year for the last 30 years but there have been almost no new classes of antibiotics discovered since 1987.

The plan is to "incentivise" pharmaceutical companies to plough resources into research but no decision has been taken on how to do that.

"We have been waiting for the next new antibiotic to come along and treat those resistant cases but the pipeline is drying up," Prof Davies added.

"There are no new classes of antibiotics in the pipelines across the world and there are very few in development.

"That's because we have not, as a global society, incentivised producing antibiotics. We have market failure and we really need to do something about this."

The Chief Medical Officer said the issue should also be considered by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs because around 50% of antibiotics used in the UK are given to animals.

The Department of Health said it will soon publish the UK Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy setting out a five-year action plan aiming to address the issue.


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