The Question

What causes drug resistance, how serious is the problem and what can be done about it?

What we found

Inappropriate and excessive use of antimicrobial drugs creates selection pressure that drives drug resistance in microbial disease populations. Drug resistance can be avoided or delayed by decreasing the use of antimicrobial drugs in cases where they are not necessary. Interventions targeting the health care providers as well as the patients are part of the solution. In addition to preserving the effectiveness of existing drugs, it is necessary to speed up the development of new drugs.

Why it matters

Methicillin-resistant staph bacteria, chloroquine-resistant malaria and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis provide extreme cases of the increased costs and health burden resulting from drug resistant pathogens. Patients with resistant infections require longer hospital stays, more expensive second-line drugs and are more likely to suffer or die from treatment failure.