Antibiotic resistance is an urgent and growing public health threat. How much do you know about the issues involved? Answer the questions below to find out.
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? Which of the following conditions require antibiotics?
- Common cold
+ None of the above
! Flu, bronchitis, and common colds should not be treated with antibiotics, according to medical treatment guidelines.
? Of the patients who go to urgent care centers with acute respiratory conditions that do not require antibiotics, what percentage are prescribed antibiotics anyway?
- 17 percent
- 30 percent
+ 46 percent
! National treatment guidelines do not recommend antibiotic use for several acute respiratory conditions, including viral upper respiratory tract infections (common cold), bronchitis/bronchiolitis, asthma/allergy, influenza, nonsuppurative middle ear infections (those without infected fluid in the middle ear), and viral pneumonia. Because these conditions are either caused by viruses or are noninfectious, antibiotics are not effective.
Yet about 46 percent of all urgent care visits for non-antibiotic recommended diagnoses resulted in an antibiotic prescription. This is comparatively higher than other outpatient health care settings, such as retail clinics, emergency departments, and office-based clinics, where the same visits ended with a prescription some 14, 25, and 17 percent of the time, respectively.
- 82 percent
? What percentage of antibiotics in development are truly new, and not based on already existing types of drugs?
+ Less than 25 percent
! Of the antibiotics in clinical development, over 75 percent belong to existing types—or "classes"—of drugs against which bacterial resistance has already been observed or could easily develop. As resistance to one antibiotic often leads to resistance in similar types of drugs, novel classes of antibiotics—with a significantly different core molecular structure or mode of attack—are critically needed to stay ahead of resistance.
However, fewer than 1 in 4 drugs in the pipeline represent a novel drug class or mechanism of action. Only one of these is potentially active against Gram-negative pathogens—which cause some of the toughest-to-treat infections—or World Health Organization critical threat pathogens.
- 50 percent
- Over 75 percent
- All antibiotics in development are new classes
? In 2014, more than of visits to retail clinics—walk-in health care facilities operating within businesses such as pharmacies and grocery stores—resulted in an antibiotic prescription.
- a fifth
- a quarter
+ a third
! More than a third of visits to retail clinics in 2014 resulted in an antibiotic prescription. The majority of antibiotics prescribed in these clinics were associated with diagnoses of acute respiratory conditions for which antibiotics are often not recommended.
? Of the 42 antibiotics in development globally, how many have the potential to treat the most dangerous superbugs?
! The World Health Organization considers three bacteria to be critical threats to public health. These Gram-negative pathogens—carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Acinetobacter baumannii—often cause severe complications in hospitalized patients, with up to 50 percent dying from bloodstream infections caused by CRE. There is an urgent need to address these critical threats, but only 11 antibiotics in development have the potential to address infections caused by these difficult-to-treat bacteria.
What's more, historical data show that only about 1 in 5 infectious disease drugs that enter phase I trials will receive FDA approval.
? What percentage of antibiotics in the pipeline today are being developed by small companies rather than large pharmaceutical firms?
- 25 percent
- 50 percent
- 70 percent
+ Over 80 percent
! Of the 39 or so companies with antibiotics in clinical development, only five rank among the top 50 pharmaceutical companies by sales. Over 80 percent of the products in development today are being researched by small companies rather than the large pharmaceutical firms that once dominated this field. Additionally, roughly half of these companies are considered pre-revenue, meaning that they do not yet have any products on the market.
While innovation from small companies is crucial, it's concerning that most large companies are not investing in this field of research and development.
? Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in what year?
! Nearly a century after Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin, bacteria continue to develop the ability to defeat antibiotics. Doctors worldwide are concerned about the spread of superbugs that are resistant to all antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to public health. A majority of infectious disease doctors have had at least one patient that they couldn’t treat with existing antibiotics. Here’s what you should know about superbugs.
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