Author – David A. Relman, MD, FIDSA
Carlos Don was a healthy, active, and spirited sixth grader who loved playing football and never let anything slow him down. In 2007, an antibiotic-resistant infection, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, took his life just days before his 13th birthday.
Sadly, this is just one of many tragedies caused by the alarming rise in drug-resistant infections and the lack of new antibiotics in the development pipeline. Using antibiotics appropriately—at home, in the doctor’s office, at the pharmacy, in the hospital, and on the farm—is a crucial part of addressing this public health crisis. Antibiotics can save lives when used wisely, but misusing them can do more harm than good, from serious allergic reactions to hastening the development of resistance.
This week, as we mark “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week,” the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is joining with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other national health organizations to commit to principles, including antibiotic stewardship, to both conserve and replenish our antibiotic resources. It’s part of IDSA’s ongoing effort to find solutions to this crisis, which requires a multipronged approach.
Another key element of this effort is to provide incentives that encourage research and development of new antibiotics, such as new approval pathways to streamline the development of antibiotics needed to treat the most serious bacterial infections. In addition, doctors and their patients sorely need more advanced rapid diagnostic tools to unmask infections more quickly and accurately. Finally, stronger public health measures, including surveillance, data collection, and immunization, and related research are also in order.
It will take all of us working together to ensure a future where the lives of patients like Carlos are not cut short by antibiotic-resistant infections and we have the antibiotics and diagnostics we need to prevent such tragedies. Getting smarter about antibiotic use is a critical step on this path.
Visit www.AntibioticsNow.org to learn more about Carlos, others who have been affected by antibiotic-resistant infections, and IDSA’s efforts.