Immune To Drugs: How Antimicrobial Resistance Could Kill 10 Million A Year Globally If Nothing Is Done
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contends that, “Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.” And it’s true. Bacteria, viruses and parasites are growing evermore resistant to the drugs that have been developed to combat them. In fact, this resistance – antimicrobial resistance – has surged into a public health nightmare around the world.
Annually, at least 700,000 people die from drug-resistant diseases, and that number is expected to increase to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if nothing is done. And at present, the incentives to get something done are so misaligned it’s a frightening possibility.
Because of this growing emergency, the United Nations created the Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, and published a report with international agencies and experts noting that without immediate global action, the crisis of drug resistance bacteria and viruses could lead to an economic catastrophe as bad as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, and by 2030 could force as many as 24 million people into poverty.
And it hits home more often than we know. In the U.S., antimicrobial resistance causes more than 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year – the equivalent of a Boeing 747 crashing each week. Financially, it is projected that due to lost wages, hospital stays and premature death, the U.S. lost about $35 billion in 2008 to antibiotic-resistant infections, and this number continues to rise.
And sadly, there is no slowdown in sight, as more and more antibiotics lose their effectiveness each year. And there are many reasons for this crisis including overprescribing, hospital breeding grounds, plant and water supply contamination, and lack of new research.