Fear Of A Post-Antibiotic Planet

The chief medical officer for Britain's Department of Health warns of the "apocalyptic scenario" that could occur if more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and no new versions are created to take their place.

What's the Latest Development?


In a recent speech to members of the British parliament, chief medical officer Sally Davies warned that the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, combined with a decrease in development of new and better antibiotics, posed a threat that was more urgent and more serious than global warming. Her concerns echo those of the World Health Organization, where director-general Margaret Chan said that "a post-antibiotic era would mean even a common scratch or a strep throat could again lead to uncurable infections and death." 

What's the Big Idea?

According to Davies, antibiotics are having little to no effect on certain diseases, such as gonorrhea and tuberculosis, that were far more common prior to their development. In addition, "Staphylococcal and urinary tract infections are now resistant to penicillin, and MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is increasingly prevalent, especially in health care facilities." Also, the pharmaceutical industry's focus has shifted towards developing drugs for chronic diseases, which bring in more revenue. Davies' annual report, containing strategies for confronting this issue, is due in March.

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