What happens when antibiotics stop being effective?
After hundreds of years of steady medical breakthroughs, we’re looking at the very real possibility of medical setbacks.1
Due to antibiotic resistance, a growing number of bacterial infections — such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhea — are becoming harder to treat as microbes become more resilient to treatment.
It’s not inconceivable that one day, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management, caesarean sections and hip replacements will be considered very high risk — and that the risk of dying from a common infection would outweigh the benefits of the medical procedure.
Older people and immunocompromised people may have a higher risk of dying from a drug-resistant infection1, but antimicrobial resistance is a much bigger problem: Whenever anyone in a community abuses antibiotics, the drugs become less effective for everyone in the community.
Developing new medicines isn’t enough. The discovery of new antimicrobials is too slow to keep pace with how quickly microbes are evolving to resist old medicines.2 We need to preserve the effectiveness of the antimicrobials which we currently have.
Just as important, it’s critical we move away from the broad over-prescription of antibiotics towards more targeted therapy.