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Antibiotic awareness and preventing further antimicrobial resistance

02 December 2019
Volume 1 · Issue 12

Following on from World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which took place from 18-22 November, there has been much discussion around how to prevent the further emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. In fact, this year's campaign marks the first in a new 5-year National Action Plan in the UK for tackling antimicrobial resistance, which will aim to reduce inappropriate prescribing, and control and prevent infection (NHS England, 2019).

The development of antibiotics has been revolutionary for medicine and public health. However, given the resistance that is now building up against them, we are facing one of the most significant and urgent threats to global health and, as former Prime Minister David Cameron put it: ‘If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine’.

Entering an era where antibiotics are no longer effective is beginning to pose a threat to the medical community. Antibacterial therapy has the sixth largest pipeline of any therapy area across the entire pharmaceutical industry, driven by society's need for new antibacterial products capable of tackling rising antibiotic resistance (Pharmaceutical Technology, 2018). While many antibiotics are still currently effective and available, for some infections therapeutic options are limited and at crisis point (Appelbaum, 2012). Examples of this looming threat have been seen in recent history: in 2016, a woman in her 70s checked into a hospital in Reno, Nevada, with a bacterial infection in her hip of carpabenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. However, in addition to carpabenem, this strain was also resistant to tetracycline, colistin, and all of the 26 other antimicrobials available on the market. A few weeks later, she developed septic shock and died (Molteni, 2017) – the medical community must all do what it can to ensure we're not catapulted back to an era where this becomes the norm.

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