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article imageMedics call for nine antibiotics per year limit

By Tim Sandle     Aug 26, 2016 in Health
A new research paper has called on medics to restrict doses of antibiotics prescribed each year to nine per year. This is seen as necessary in order to limit antibiotic resistant bacteria.
In the last two decades, the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to current antibiotic treatments has substantially increased. This is the product of naturally acquired resistance; over-prescribing by medical doctors; and the practice of adding antimicrobial to animal feed. The effects of this pose a significant risk to human society, especially to the elderly, infirm and those admitted to hospital.
Moreover, this risk has been compounded not only by microorganisms that are resistant to one antimicrobial or another, but due to the rise of multi-drug resistant microorganisms (the so-termed ‘super bugs’). To add to this the threat of newly emerging pathogens remains ever-present.
To address these concerns, various hunts and related laboratory tests are underway to find new, alternative antimicrobial compounds. These take time and are largely confined to the university sector, given the reluctance by parts of the pharmaceutical sector to invest in antimicrobials that will deliver a relatively low return on investment (a clear downside of private healthcare economies).
A secondary means is to turn the tide of medical opinion. This involves getting doctors only to prescribe antibiotics and antimicrobials only when necessary and never offering them to patients with viral (that is non-bacterial) infections.
Joining this movement is a paper published in the journal Science. The paper, summarized by The Independent, says that antibiotics "should be limited to an average of less than nine daily doses a year per person in a bid to prevent the rise of untreatable superbugs."
Specifically the researchers call for the number of antibiotics given per person per year, globally, to be no more than nine. In the paper they write: "We propose that no country consume more than the current median global level – 8.54 defined daily doses per capita per year. We estimate that this would lower overall use by 17.5 per cent globally.”
These proposed restrictions are averaged per person, so in instances when patients are fighting off life-threatening infections, antibiotics would still be available. The call comes in the form as a proposal to the United Nations. The research paper is titled "Achieving global targets for antimicrobial resistance."
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