Since their introduction into medicine in 1941, antibiotics have saved millions of lives and transformed modern medicine. As a result, bacterial infections have become easily treatable, and the horizons for surgeries, transplants, and more complicated life-saving procedures have expanded. But increasing antibiotic resistance is leading to higher treatment costs, longer hospital stays, and unnecessary deaths. The more we use antibiotics, the more we contribute to the pool of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

The development of resistance is an inevitable byproduct of exposure to antibiotics. All antibiotic use, whether warranted or not, places selection pressure on bacteria, and some organisms that possess genetic mutations will survive antibiotic treatment. Over time, resistance threatens to return us to an era where simple bacterial infections will once again be deadly.

As representatives from a range of fields concerned with human health, we jointly recognize our collective responsibility to protect the effectiveness of all antibiotics – those we have today, and those yet to be developed. We also recognize the potential for these life-saving drugs to be overused in both the human and agricultural sectors. Antibiotics are a shared resource, and every individual should consider how each prescription or use of antibiotics affects the overall effectiveness of the antibiotic arsenal. The problem is defined by challenges on both the demand and supply sides of the equation – just as antibiotics are frequently overused, there are few new drugs in the development pipeline.