Patients are facing an ‘unthinkable scenario’ where infections become ‘untreatable’ due to resistance to antibiotics, leading doctors have warned.
The overuse of antibiotics have led to a rise in the number of bacterial infections which are resistant to all drugs, experts said.
The findings come amid growing fears that overuse of antibiotics could render them redundant and unable to tackle serious infections, such as hospital bugs.
Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) listing antibiotic resistance as one of the top three health threats the world faces, little has been done to address the issue.
About 25,000 patients die every year across the European Union from infections caused by bacteria which have grown resistant to antimicrobial medicines, including antibiotics.
In England, the Department of Health urges doctors and nurses to think twice before prescribing antibiotics.
According to Prof Laura Piddock, of University of Birmingham, and President of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC), writing in The Lancet
Infectious Diseases , “The demise of antibacterial drug discovery brings the specter of untreatable infections. To prevent this crisis immediate action is needed.”
Meanwhile, a survey has found half of those who go to their doctor with coughs, colds, flu or a sore throat, expect to be given antibiotics.
Most of these illnesses are caused by viruses which cannot be treated with antibiotics and improper use of the drugs is fueling resistance it was warned.
Marc Sprenger, Director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said: “The need for concerted action to curb growing resistance to antibiotics is now critical with the establishment of resistance to the last line of antibiotics being reported to ECDC from several European countries for the first time.