Antibiotic resistance a serious threat despite discovery
In light of a major breakthrough to find new antibiotics with the discovery of teixobactin, NPS MedicineWise warns that antibiotic resistance in Australia remains a serious health problem.
Dr Lynn Weekes, CEO of NPS MedicineWise says that despite this significant medical development, it could be many years before teixobactin will be available.
“While the discovery of teixobactin is a promising breakthrough, actually bringing this new antibiotic to market will be a very lengthy process as it undergoes further studies and then testing in humans,” says Dr Weekes.
“We cannot afford to become complacent about the very real and immediate issue of antibiotic resistance. We risk losing the effect of existing antibiotics in the short term if the high rate of antibiotic use continues in Australia,” says Dr Weekes.
“Teixobactin is not a ‘quick fix’ and won’t provide defence against all bacteria. For example, it is not effective against any bacteria which have an outer membrane, known as ‘gram negative’ bacteria, such as E. coli. Multidrug resistant E. coli in urinary tract infections (UTIs) is present in Australia. E. coli now displays resistance rates to over 50% of commonly used antibiotics, and some strains have acquired resistance to more than three antibiotics.”
Australia has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use in the world with more than 24 million antibiotic prescriptions written every year. Australia sits well above the OECD average in relation to antibiotic use. To reduce our overuse the entire Australian community has a part to play.
NPS MedicineWise is part way through a five-year campaign to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in Australia by 25%. The campaign encourages all Australians to be responsible with antibiotics and join the fight against antibiotic resistance.
“There are simple steps that health professionals and individuals can take to ensure they use antibiotics judiciously and appropriately. For health professionals this means adhering to best practice prescribing guidelines, and for the community it is important not to pressure your doctor for antibiotics when you have a cold or flu because these are not bacterial infections,” says Dr Weekes.
“The more antibiotics are used, the more chances bacteria have to become resistant to them. This can then make bacterial infections much harder to treat when you do have one.”
More information about antibiotic resistance can be found here – http://www.nps.org.au/antibiotics.
13 January 2015.