According to the CDC, 266.1 million courses of antibiotics were dispensed to patients in pharmacies across the US in 2014.
In other words, five prescriptions are written each year for every six people in the US. Interestingly, about 30% of antibiotics prescribed in the outpatient setting aren’t even necessary.
It has become a sort of standard for patients to ask their physicians to prescribe antibiotics. Doctors also tend to prescribe these medications even when they may not be needed, in order to avoid malpractice.
The problem here isn’t just frequent and usually unnecessary use of antibiotics, but the fact the world is running out of them. WHO published an interesting report and we bring you all the details.
What Does The Report Say?
On Tuesday, September 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report called Prioritization of pathogens to guide discovery, research and development of new antibiotics for drug-resistant bacterial infections, including tuberculosis.
One of many diseases that are spreading at a concerning rate is multi-drug resistant tuberculosis or TB. The disease requires a treatment that usually lasts between 9 and 20 months.
Even though we tend to consider tuberculosis is a disease of past times, the report shows it is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide.
What’s more, 250,000 people die due to tuberculosis each year and only 52% of all patients are treated successfully. Therefore, it is absolutely shocking to know that only two new antibiotics for TB were released in last 70 years.
World Needs More Antibiotics
WHO’s report also reveals that as of May, only 11 biologicals and 51 antibiotics are being developed. To clarify, biologicals are products that are usually made of natural sources. If you take into account the world’s population, infectious diseases, and the speed they’re evolving, it is perfectly clear the world needs more antibiotics and this number is simply not enough.
In February this year, WHO released a list of priority pathogens which contained 12 types of bacteria that were in urgent need of new antibiotics. Some of these include Acinetobacter baumannii, Enterobacteriaceae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa all of which have become resistant to antibiotic carbapenem.
In addition, infections occurring in a hospital setting, such as MRS and C. difficile, are identified as a major concern in the report because they pose a huge danger to patients with weak immune system and who are already treated for some health problem.
If these bacteria also become resistant to antibiotics and due to the fact the insufficient amount of new drugs are developed, consequences could be too severe.
Is There A Solution?
With the intention to address this major problem, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative founded the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership.
The WHO officials explain that antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency and if things remain unchanged it will undermine the remarkable progress of medicine.
Although the new collaboration has the goal to encourage production of new antibiotics, they admit development of more drugs can’t help ease the situation on its own.
It is also important to take necessary measures to decrease* the incidence and prevent these common diseases and to educate people and physicians about the responsible use of antibiotics.
The latest report published by WHO confirms the world is running out of antibiotics because too few drugs are being developed while infectious diseases are spreading at a faster rate. Besides the development of new antibiotics, it is also important to work on preventative measures.
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