Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the biggest global crisis that no one is talking about.
If unaddressed, drug resistant infections are predicted to be responsible for more deaths globally than cancer. AMR describes the development of a microbe’s ability to survive treatment with an antimicrobial as a result of overuse. Usually, this demands higher doses—which are increasingly dangerous to the host patient—or alternative types of antimicrobials—of which we’re running on low supply. Overuse with antimicrobials increases the propensity for bacteria—whether targets or bystanders—to become resistant, meaning if you are unlucky enough to catch a resistant infection, there’s no cure.
With this threat looming over us, one would expect a tight rein on antimicrobials. But in fact, we see the opposite.
Antimicrobials are in consumer products ranging from toothpastes and deodorants to meats and cheeses. Furthermore, people aren’t talking about it. Irresponsible or uninformed use of antimicrobials shortens the lifetime of effective treatments, ushering us ever faster toward a post-antibiotic era.
The development of new antibiotics demands huge sums of money for relatively small return on investment and the very high risk of resistant strains developing. For this reason, all major pharmaceutical companies have stopped researching and developing new antibiotics, leaving medical professionals on the frontlines to fight increasingly resistant and elusive pathogens with an increasingly attenuating line of defense.