The threat of antibiotic resistance continues to grow in 2022. Reporters looking for new angles on how to cover this brewing danger can look to efforts by public health advocates, drug company leaders and federal legislators, who are pushing for federal policies that encourage the development of new antibiotics. Their efforts come as two recent reports demonstrate that another potential global infectious disease crisis is percolating.
One January 2022 report concluded that 1.2 million deaths globally were the result of drug resistance in 2019 — higher than previously understood. Another showed that the pipeline of new antibiotics to replace those that no longer work remains dangerously thin and likely won’t expand unless the federal government steps in like it did during COVID-19 with vaccines.
“Among the many sobering reminders of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the critical importance of public health preparedness,” Kathy Talkington, director of health programs at Pew Charitable Trusts, wrote in a Feb. 3 letter to a U.S. Senate committee in support of legislation to spur the development of new antibiotics. “While we were not aware of COVID-19 before its emergence, experts have been warning for decades about the threat of antibiotic resistance … Yet, their value to health care has been taken for granted; all the while, their effectiveness gradually diminishes.”
The CDC estimated in 2019 that about 35,000 people a year in the U.S. die from a drug-resistant infection, which is up from 2013 when the agency estimated about 21,000 were dying annually from a superbug. This is the latest national data available from the CDC.
Are you looking for new COVID-19 story angles and stories beyond the current pandemic? Pay attention to “superbugs,” the term for bacteria that have developed resistance to antimicrobial drugs.
Overprescribing of antibiotics in U.S. hospitals during the first months of the pandemic increased the likelihood that the threat of antibiotic resistance has grown over the past year, according to a recent study. Continue reading
Spurred by concerns about opioid addiction and antibiotic overuse, experts have urged clinicians across health care disciplines to take a hard look at their prescribing habits. Dentists, who are numbered among the nation’s leading prescribers of opioids and antibiotics, have been included in these warnings.
Dentists were responsible for writing more than 11 million opioid prescriptions one recent year, yet experts have cautioned that addiction often begins with such routine prescriptions. Continue reading
Photo: CDCDrug resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa
The danger of antibiotic resistance became clearer in November with the release of new figures showing that antibiotic resistance is among the top ten causes of mortality in the U.S.
This information is a news hook for all kinds of follow-up stories, from examining the effectiveness of local hospital antibiotic stewardship programs, to parenting articles on the potential dangers of antibiotics to children as we enter the winter season. Continue reading
Since 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been saying that, in their conservative estimate, at least 2 million people in the U.S. are infected with an antimicrobial resistant pathogen and at least 23,000 die from it.
But those numbers likely are much higher. By mid-November, the public will know more when the agency is expected to release its second antibiotic resistance threat report. The new numbers are likely to show that antimicrobial resistance is worsening and more people are dying from resistant pathogens than previously believed. Continue reading