Intended for healthcare professionals


Tackling antibiotic resistance

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 18 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2071
  1. Anthony D So, director, Program on Global Health and Technology Access1,
  2. Neha Gupta, associate in research1,
  3. Otto Cars, chairman and founding executive director of ReAct (Action on Antibiotic Resistance)2
  1. 1Terry Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, 302 Towerview Drive, Box 90314, Durham, NC 27708, USA
  2. 2Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Box 256, 751 05 Uppsala, Sweden

Concerted action is needed to provide new technologies and conserve existing drugs

The twin challenge of conserving the effectiveness of existing antibacterial drugs and developing new ones is attracting attention in policy circles. In September 2009, a conference organised under the auspices of the Swedish European Union presidency highlighted the need to provide incentives for developing new antibacterial drugs. In the linked article (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2115), Morel and Mossialos provide an inventory of incentives, prepared for that conference, to promote research and development for new treatment options.1

Last November, the summit between the EU and the United States announced a transatlantic task force on antimicrobial resistance that will tackle “appropriate therapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in the medical and veterinary communities, prevention of both healthcare- and community-associated drug-resistant infections, and strategies for improving the pipeline of new antimicrobial drugs.”2

In the US, the annual cost of treating resistant nosocomial infections traceable to six bacteria exceeded $1.87bn (£1.2bn; €1.4bn), greater than the yearly cost of treating influenza.3 In the EU, added costs and loss of productivity as a result of antibiotic resistance conservatively amount to €1.5bn.4 This problem is not just transatlantic, but global. Tuberculosis claims 1.8 million lives each year, and typhoid fever takes …

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