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Friday, April 8, 2011

Initiatives to fight antibiotic resistance

According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), if we don’t find a way to produce new and better antibiotics, we will soon find ourselves unable to combat the growing onslaught of resistant microbes. On ‘World Health Day’, April 7th, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a new policy to fight antimicrobial resistance.

Just one resistant bug alone, the infamous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is responsible for almost 20,000 deaths a year in the U.S. Add in other resistant microbes and the figures rises to close to 100,000. If this number continues to increase, it will fundamentally change the way doctors treat their patients. To name one example, at the risk of untreatable infection, even routine surgeries will once again be perilous gambles.

Fortunately, the IDSA has a plan. They presented their recommendations to Congress for implementing an all out battle against the microbes. Among their proposals:

  • Provide greater economic incentives for the development of new antibiotics.
  • Improve reporting on resistance rates and clinical outcomes.
  • Simplify the testing and regulation of new antimicrobials.
  • And perhaps most importantly, improve stewardship of antimicrobials to prevent future resistance.

If these policies are adopted, the IDSA is optimistic that we can forestall a return to the days when there was no effective treatment for infections. Let’s hope they’re right.