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. But the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—a result of decades of overuse in animal agriculture and human medicine combined with a lack of new drug development and innovation—has placed humanity on the precipice of what public health leaders call a “post-antibiotic” world in which even the most simple surgical procedure could have deadly consequences.
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.
Many antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary or inappropriate. Improved antibiotic stewardship is needed, not only to curb the threat of antibiotic resistance but also to avoid exposing patients to unnecessary risks. Read More
International momentum to address the threat of antibiotic resistance continues to build, as evidenced by the joint declaration issued today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The statement calls for renewed cooperation among governments and industry to create sustainable markets for antibiotics and for revitalization of the necessary basic scientific research and development... Read More
As of September 2015, an estimated 39 new antibiotics with the potential to treat serious bacterial infections are in clinical development for the U.S. market and two have been approved within the last year. The success rate for clinical drug development is low; at best, only 1 in 5 candidates that enter human testing (Phase 1 clinical trials) will be approved for patients. Read More
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