Briefing Paper

Gemma L. Buckland Merrett
Tackling antibiotic resistance
  • Antibiotic resistance is now recognized as a major global health security issue that threatens a return to the pre-antibiotic era, with potentially catastrophic economic, social and political ramifications. An extra burden is likely to hit resource-poor countries. 
  • Although bacteria naturally adapt to outsmart antibiotics, human actions accelerate the development and spread of resistance. 
  • Antibiotics need to be used judiciously, with effective stewardship and infection prevention and control, and a harmonized approach to their use in animal and human health should be fostered. There is also a need for practical economic models to develop new products that avoid rewarding researchers for what they do already. 
  • Choosing the right paradigms for sustainably stimulating R&D requires new measures to align the financial incentives for drug and diagnostic test development with public health needs. Incentives for infection control and appropriate stewardship are equally important. 
  • Integrated efforts involving academia, policy-makers, industry and interest groups will be required to produce a global political response with strong leadership, based on a coherent set of priorities and actions.