When Alexander Flemming accepted his Nobel Prize for the discovery of penicillin, he issued a warning to future generations: his miracle drug—responsible for saving millions of lives—could one day be useless.
“It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them,” Flemming said. “There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”
Seventy years later, Flemming’s nightmare scenario is coming true.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports drug-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people nationwide, killing 23,000 annually. In addition to lives lost, infections cost $20 billion in additional direct healthcare costs, up to $35 billion in lost worker productivity, and $8 billion in extra hospital days. Given the knowledge and resources available to us, this is unacceptable.
We need a multi-pronged strategy to attack antibiotic resistance.
Read more at The Hill.