Publication

The Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance: Lessons from the Past for the Present and the Future

Professor Cormac Ó Gráda launches new research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at the Social Market Foundation.

This is the second briefing paper in the Global Perspectives series which is a new collaboration between the SMF and the University of Warwick’s centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

Professor Ó Gráda’s paper sets out that the challenge of tackling AMR requires a focus on both:

  1. increasing the supply of new antimicrobials (the antibiotics ‘pipeline’); and,
  2. reducing the demand for antibiotics (consumption).

The briefing outlines how public health measures have historically been essential to controlling infectious diseases and, even if AMR increases, the effect of new public health initiatives will limit the negative consequences. The paper states that there is also considerable scope for reducing the consumption of antibiotics, and as a result the spread of resistance, particularly through increased health education.

The Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance also argues that the ‘pipeline’ of new drugs is not as dry as is usually claimed in the media, showing that, as of December 2014, there are thirty-seven new antibiotics listed as being ‘under development’ in the United States alone.

While the briefing states that the challenge posed by AMR is very real and there is no room for complacency about what new antibiotics will emerge from current efforts, how effective they will be, and how long it will be before they too encounter resistance, it concludes that many of the warnings of ‘AMR apocalypse now’ are overdrawn.

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