At The Wall Street Journal, Betsy McKay outlines that antibiotics are losing the battle against superbugs. Overuse of antibiotics is a major cause of the problem according to a CDC report.
Public-health experts are increasingly sounding the alarm about the number of microbes, from normally harmless intestinal bacteria to tuberculosis, that are winning a Darwinian battle of sorts for survival of the fittest against the antibiotics meant to kill them. Some, like gonorrhea or certain “superbugs” that have been found spreading in medical facilities, have outsmarted nearly all the drugs used to treat them.
“If we’re not careful and we don’t take action, the medicine cabinet may be empty for patients with life-threatening infections in the coming months and years,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a conference call with reporters. The pipeline of new drugs to overcome these powerful infections “is nearly empty for the short term,” he said. and some new drugs could be a decade away.
The report was blunt in summing up the reasons for greater resistance to antibiotics, including excessive use. “Up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe,” it said.
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