The State of the World’s Antibiotics: Resistance Rates Rising, Stewardship is the Solution

Posted on by Ramanan Laxminarayan
Ramanan Laxminarayan,
Ramanan Laxminarayan, Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy

Antibiotic resistance is a problem that must be faced squarely in every country in 2015. The good news is that every country can take action and these national actions will benefit the local population. That’s the conclusion my colleagues and I at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) were proud to release in September in a major report: The State of the World’s Antibiotics, 2015.

The report looks comprehensively at global antibiotic use and resistance in humans, livestock and the environment, the global antibiotic supply, and actions that can be taken at country level to minimize antibiotic resistance.

We found some clear trends:

  • The prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is increasing all over the world, including the United States.
  • The global use of antibiotics by humans increased by more than 30 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 50 billion to 70 billion standard units, and we expect the trend to continue.
  • About 80 percent of this use takes place in the community, meaning that, though hospitals contribute greatly to consumption (because patients with the most difficult-to-treat infections are in hospitals), unchecked use in outpatient and non-prescription settings is a major issue.
  • Non-therapeutic antibiotic use in animals—dosing chickens, pigs or cows with antibiotics to promote growth and prevent infections rather than to cure illness—is growing worldwide. We project that global animal antibiotic consumption will grow 67 percent between 2010 and 2030.

Stopping the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, while maintaining access for those who truly need them, is of utmost importance.

The root of the problem is often attributed to the “empty pipeline” argument—that if we just had more new antibiotics, resistance wouldn’t be a problem. But no matter how many new drugs come out, if we continue to misuse them, they might as well have never been discovered.
Instead, strong antibiotic stewardship in its broadest sense is the key to conserving antibiotic effectiveness. CDDEP recently estimated that investing $50 million in an antibiotic stewardship program can “buy” one full year for the billion-dollar research and development programs that are trying to bring new antibiotics to the market.

Stewardship programs can be done at the national level everywhere in the world; though antibiotic resistance is a global problem, the solutions lie at national and regional levels.

So what can you do?

  • Participate in Get Smart for Antibiotics Week (Nov. 16-22). Read and share educational materials for parents, healthcare professionals, administrators, and policy makers about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Learn more.
  • Spread the word. Participate in a global Twitter chat on Wednesday, Nov. 18 using #AntibioticResistance to increase awareness about the importance of preserving the power of antibiotics.
  • If you’re a patient, talk to your healthcare professional. Tell your provider you’re concerned about antibiotic resistance and ask what steps they are taking to use antibiotics appropriately. Learn more.
  • If you’re a healthcare professional, talk to your patients. Educate your patients by telling them antibiotics don’t work for viruses like colds, most sore throats, and the flu. Learn more.

If your organization is implementing antibiotic stewardship principles, consider submitting a summary of your key activities to CDC. Learn more.

Posted on by Ramanan LaxminarayanTags

5 comments on “The State of the World’s Antibiotics: Resistance Rates Rising, Stewardship is the Solution”

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    Have been infected with esbl (extended spectrum beta lactamase) at local hospital and been told it was untreatable. Beware of health care providers with unhygenic practices. Make everyone clean their hands in front of you. Governments need to take over development of new antibiotics as drug companies do not see profit in doing so.

    This is fact that AMR is increasing globally particularly in countries with high population and weak economic growth. In developing Countries precribers are not ready to listen the pharmacists, nurses or even patients. Prescriber writes more antibiotics to treat their patients in short period of time to increase his popularity in the community. As a result , there is the misuse and overuse of Drugs resulting in AMR. Medication errors are also reasons for AMR.
    2. There is the dire need that surveillance of AMR may be conducted at national level. After having the data national action plan may be prepared. Campaigns and awareness may be created among the prescribers and patients regarding AMR. Political will of each country will play important role.
    3. Antibiotics Stewardship and role of pharmacist will play important role to minimize the misuse and overuse of antibiotics which are cause root of AMR.

    Best Regards

    Thank you, CDC, for hosting Get Smart About Antibiotics Week; the Public Health Foundation (PHF) is thrilled to be a partner on this issue during this awareness week and throughout the year. PHF agrees that solutions lie at national and regional levels, which is why we are working with state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to promote optimal antibiotic use.

    PHF has developed and piloted the Antibiotic Stewardship Public Health Driver Diagram which aligns the roles of public health and healthcare in promoting optimal antibiotic use ( PHF is also collaborating with the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion to promote and disseminate resources used to develop antibiotic stewardship programs.

    We look forward to working with CDC, health departments, and public health practitioners nationwide to address this important issue.

    I have been a proponent of antibiotic stewardship for my entire 30 year career in pediatrics. Parents often attempt to strong arm you into prescribing antibiotics for viral illnesses. It takes more time to educate than to prescribe. It’s about time we took the time; similarly with vaccinations.
    I anticipate vaccine preventable diseases in our future if we don’t take the time and talk louder than the naysayers!!!

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Page last reviewed: May 11, 2021
Page last updated: May 11, 2021
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