Antibiotic Resistance is expected to take more lives than cancer

Antibiotic resistance or ABR is a current real-world issue and is escalating with time. As of 2014, ABR was estimated to be responsible for 700, 000 deaths annually1. The implications of antibiotic resistance are also important to discuss. Countries around the world are expected to incur a high economic cost with the rise of ABR and there is little incentive for entrepreneurs and researchers to develop more antibiotics. Furthermore, left unsolved, experts believe antibiotic resistance to take more lives than cancer in the near future.

According to a study chaired by internationally published economist and antibiotic resistance expert Jim O’Neill, ABR is expected to take 10 million lives annually by the year 2050. The current conservative estimate for ABR-associated deaths is 700,000. This illustrates the growing problem of ABR and the need to find viable solutions. 10 million deaths per year are more than the 8.2 million annual deaths attributed to cancer.

There are several reasons why ABR is a pressing issue and continues to be a problem. Firstly, antibiotics are usually overprescribed and foster conditions that lead to antibiotic resistance through evolutionary mechanisms in bacteria. This problem is especially prevalent in third world countries. Secondly, researchers and investors have little economic incentive to produce antibiotics. Antibiotics are difficult to research and develop and regulatory approval is challenging. Additionally, the venture is not very profitable. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the net present value (NPV) of a new antibiotic is about $50 million compared to an NPV of $1 billion for a drug that treats neuromuscular disease.2

Fortunately, many distinguished scientists and institutions around the world recognize the problem of ABR. New technologies like antimicrobial Photodynamic Therapy (aPDT) are providing alternatives to antibiotics that are both economically viable and counter the problem of antibiotic resistance. Plenty of evidence shows that ABR should be a concern to everyone, can affect everyone. and will ultimately lead to many deaths in the near future if left alone. Efforts should be focused in developing alternatives to antibiotics and solving the ABR problem.

1“The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.” AMR-Review. 2014. Accessed June 15, 2016. Review Paper – Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations_1.pdf.

2Ventola, C. Lee. “The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis: Part 1: Causes and Threats.” Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2015. Accessed June 15, 2016.

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