Antibiotics are fundamental to modern medicine, essential for treating everything from routine skin infections to strep throat, and for protecting vulnerable patients receiving chemotherapy or being treated in intensive care units.
Although antibiotic resistance is not a new problem, its scope now constitutes a major threat to human health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million Americans fall sick every year with antibiotic-resistant infections—and 23,000 die.
Medical and public health experts agree that addressing antibiotic resistance requires measures that will ensure both the prudent use of existing drugs and a robust pipeline of new drugs. Pew's antibiotic resistance project supports policies that would:
- Spur the creation of new antibiotics by removing the regulatory, economic, and scientific obstacles that impede antibiotic discovery and development.
- Establish stewardship programs to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed only when necessary in human health care settings.
- End the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.
3 personal perspectives
Health experts create national targets to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions
Analysis shows more than 1 in 3 labels will not fully meet judicious use standards after implementation of FDA policy
The emergence of alarming and unusual types of resistant bacteria around the world underscores the need for new antibiotics to treat patients with serious and life-threatening infections. Yet there are too few drugs in development to meet anticipated patient needs, and many major pharmaceutical companies have abandoned efforts to develop new antibiotics. Read More
The Food and Drug Administration recently asked Congress for an additional $8 million for its Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Drugs and Feeds Program, including money to enhance the country’s only public health surveillance system for assessing antibiotic resistance in intestinal bacteria found in people, retail meats, and food animals. Read More
Anne Schuchat, M.D., is principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She spoke at length with Pew about the threat of antibiotic resistance and what CDC is doing to combat it. Read More