Published Monday, 11 March 2013
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|•||Do not work|
against viruses like colds and flu.
|•||Are only effective|
against bacterial infections.
|•||Should only be used|
under proper medical advice – ask your doctor.
disposed of properly, not used at a later date – ask your pharmacist.
can occur naturally, but accelerates with over-use.
The UK's most senior medical advisor - Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies - has warned that the problem of antibiotic resistance is a "ticking time-bomb".
Predicting that routine procedures like hip operations could be fatal in just 20 years, Dame Sally insists the issue should be ranked alongside terrorism in terms of the "catastrophic" threat posed.
"We need to work with everyone to ensure the apocalyptic scenario of widespread antimicrobial resistance does not become a reality," she said, in a new report.
"Governments and organisations across the world, including the World Health Organisation and G8, need to take this seriously."
If we don't act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection.
Dame Sally Davies
Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, said they were strong words from Dame Sally - but "for a big problem".
"The World Health Organisation has indicated that this is the third greatest challenge to global health that we face," he told UTV.
"And it's only by having coordinated action at a global level that we're going to address this."
Dr McBride explained that increasing levels of drug resistance had major implications for Northern Ireland, in terms of the pressure put on the health service due to patients having to stay longer in hospital and more infections being present - including in hospitals and care homes.
"We need to use antibiotics wisely and not expect them for every cold or sniffle," he added.
One of the difficulties with antibiotics has been their success - we've become dependent on them. Too dependent.
Dr Michael McBride
As well as calling for the government to put antibiotic resistance on the threat list, Dame Sally wants to see greater innovation from pharmaceutical companies.
"Over the past two decades, there has been a discovery void around antibiotics - meaning diseases have evolved faster than the drugs to treat them," she said.
"There are no new classes of antibiotics in the pipelines across the world and there are very few in development. That's because we have not, as a global society, incentivised producing antibiotics.
"We have market failure and we really need to do something about this."
Over-use of antibiotics has already led to an increase in so-called superbugs which are difficult to treat due to their resistance to drugs -including C. diff, MRSA and multi-drug-resistant TB.