Infection resists 'last resort' anti-biotic in US
Authorities in the US have detected the first case of a bacteria that resists 'colistin', a last resort anti-biotic used to treat near-incurable infections around the world. The patient who carried the infection however, has recovered since the infection was vulnerable to other anti-biotics. The development sent alarm bells ringing across the medical fraternity, at a time when anti-microbial resistance is a growing menace.
The term 'superbug' is a layman term used to describe a strain of bacteria or a virus that is resistant to multiple antibiotics. Superbugs are a matter of worldwide apprehension.
Concerned about the rising levels of drug resistance, UK Prime Minister David Cameron asked economist Jim O'Neill to scrutinize the global problem of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). In July 2014, the United Kingdom Government accredited the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. The review analysed the rapid rise in microbes becoming resistant to drugs, and proposed actions to tackle it internationally.
A Declaration by the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Diagnostics Industries on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Declaration aimed to reduce the resistance to drugs, increase R&D investment in antibiotics, diagnostics, vaccines and other alternative treatments and aims to improve the quality of antibiotics. Signatories included a total of 98 companies, 11 industry associations and 21 countries.
At present, around 7% of global deaths are due to infections. Without strict measures, this could rise to 40% - as it was before the discovery of anti-biotics. Around 50,000 deaths in Europe and USA each year are due to antibiotic restistant infections. A future without antibiotics would mean that operations like hip replacement, cancer treatment or organ transplants could kill a patient.
The Global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance has stated that superbugs can and will kill someone every three seconds by 2050, unless the world takes immediate notice. The report calls for a change in the way antibiotics are used and also stresses on the need to educate the masses. It predicts that 10 million people will die every year from drug resistant infections by 2050.
Over time, the bacteria in one's body adapt and become immune to the drugs that are designed to kill them. This leads to the standard treatments for bacterial infections becoming ineffective.
O'Neill recommended extensive awareness campaign to "stop treating antibiotics like sweets." He recommended paying companies $1 billion for every new antibiotic discovered. He also spoke of promoting the use of vacciness and alternatives to drugs. He said it was crucial to return to a traditional mindset of cleanliness and hygiene to prevent the spread of infections and diseases.
A policy by India, of putting a red line on antibiotic packages to limit their over-the-counter sale is being cited as a model that can be used to counter the global threat of superbugs. The Global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance says "India has led the way with its idea of a 'Red Line Campaign' for antibiotics packaging." India started the campaign in February 2016.
In February 2016, India began marking prescription-only antibiotics with a red line to curb their irrational use and create awareness on the dangers of taking antibiotics without being prescribed. The red line made it easier for pharmacists to identify and withhold prescription-only drugs.