Report: World Facing Antibiotic Shortage

The increased use of antibiotics combined with the rise in new, drug-resistant infections had led to a worldwide shortage of useful antibiotics---that's the conclusion of a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO). The report warns that not enough new antibiotics are being produced to treat new strains of infectious disease, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, or more common STDs like gonorrhea. The WHO says that out of 51 new antibiotics in development, only eight would add value to current treatment options.

KTRH Medical Expert Dr. Joe Galati believes the root of the problem is the rise in drug-resistant infections. "Those of us in medicine are facing a lot more resistant bacteria that will require additional new antibiotics, and this is where we're running a little bit thin," he says. "We don't have enough of the perfect antibiotics to treat these more resistant infections."

As for what's behind all of these new drug-resistant infections, Dr. Galati blames a variety of factors. "For whatever reason, be it overuse of first-line antibiotics or that the bacteria are mutating, these are the more resistant, stubborn-to-be-treated bacteria," he tells KTRH.

The WHO warns that relief from these infections will be slow to arrive. Because of the slow process and poor success rates of drug development, the report predicts there will be only about 10 new approvals of antibiotics in the next five years.

In the meantime, Dr. Galati recommends some basic health and hygiene practices to prevent the need to use antibiotics in the first place. "This is a good time to talk about getting vaccinated for the flu, hand-washing this time of the year, and just really taking good care of yourself," he says.

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