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Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is one of the major threats to public health throughout the world. The risk of finding ourselves unarmed to fight ultra-resistant bacteria is now a reality.
The emergence of resistant bacteria is a natural phenomenon that is exacerbated and accelerated by the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
Antibiotics act to eliminate most susceptible bacteria. However, some bacteria are able to survive and adapt, by acquiring "resistance genes" either through the mutation of genes that are already present, or through the acquisition of new genes.
Inappropriate and unjustified use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of resistant bacterial strains, making antibiotics ineffective. In all viral infections (colds, various sore throats, etc.), the use of antibiotics is pointless and even harmful, as it increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
Bacteria known as "multidrug-resistant" are resistant to a range of antibiotics and therefore pose a significant problem in terms of treatment.
bioMérieux is at the front line in the fight against bacterial resistance: our tests are used to determine the medication to be used and avoid unnecessary treatment. As a world leader in microbiology and a pioneer in the field of resistance detection tests, bioMérieux organizes high-level scientific meetings throughout the world to offer experts the opportunity to discuss how to address the worrying emergence of resistant bacterial strains.
The healthcare challenge
A major healthcare issue, largely due to the misuse of antibiotics.
The consumption of antibiotics in human medicine can be measured in thousands of tons:
- in Europe (29 countries), consumption reached 3,350 tons in 2007,
- in the USA, approximately 3,300 tons of antibiotics were consumed in 2009.
In animal healthcare, 70% of antibiotics produced in the United States are intended for animals. This leads to the development of new bacterial strains, of which some are pathogenic.
Entering a time of shortage:
New molecules are still in development and will not be available for another five to ten years, during which time other products will disappear from the market or cease to be effective.
The development of antibiotics is time-consuming and costly for pharmaceutical companies, and the return on investment is deemed to be insufficient.
Major socio-economic costs:
The cost of medical care and loss of productivity related to these multidrug-resistant infections amounts to more than 1.5 billion Euros each year.
In the United States, nearly 900,000 cases of antibiotic-resistant infections were recorded in 2000.
- Treating a single case of MRSA costs more than 60,000 dollars.
- The overall hospital cost of antibiotic-resistant infections is in excess of 20 billion dollars.
- According to a recent study, the annual cost of multiresistant infections in the USA exceeds 20 billion dollars.
In Europe, infections caused by five multidrug-resistant strains are responsible for approximately 2.5 million additional days of hospitalization.
A high mortality rate:
Just five multidrug-resistant strains cause the death of at least 25,000 people in Europe each year.
In the United States, the number of deaths each year as a result of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is estimated at 19,000 – this is greater than the number of deaths caused by AIDS.
The role of in vitro diagnostics
bioMérieux's range of products designed to combat resistance to antibiotics covers the needs of healthcare professionals.
- Identifying resistance: beginning effective antibiotic therapy as early as possible can play a decisive role in patient outcome.
- Monitoring resistance: surveillance of antimicrobial resistance patterns at all levels – national, local, hospital and ward level - is essential to set up antimicrobial policies. Knowledge of bacterial ecology is increasingly playing an important role in better controlling the emergence of resistant bacteria.
- Tracking resistance: Transmission drives resistance. Screening patients and healthcare workers for multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) is a key measure to contain the spread of resistance. Active surveillance leads to identify asymptomatic carriers and stop cross-transmission through the rapid implementation of strict barrier precautions (contact isolation and hygiene measures).
- Preventing resistance by identifying the patients who need antibiotics and prescribing them only when necessary. Diagnostic tests, which can differentiate between bacterial and viral infections, can play a substantial role in preventing over-prescription of antibiotics.