A Future Without Antimicrobials?


Dr Laura Shallcross, University College London / Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research

20th October 2015


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health crisis that threatens the delivery of modern medicine.  Without antimicrobials routine surgery and caesarean sections would become life threatening; modern cancer treatments impossible.

We recklessly threaten the effectiveness of these essential drugs by overusing and misusing them in humans and animals, from the treatment of minor infections through to antibiotic use to promote growth in animals. Globalisation allows new and resistant bacteria to travel across the world and microorganisms we had previously vanquished such as tuberculosis are making a come back.

Until now we have escaped the terrible consequences of AMR because there has been a supply of new antimicrobials, but there have been few new drugs over the last 20 years. We need new drugs, better diagnostics and to re-think how we value and use antimicrobials to preserve their effectiveness for future generations.

Our global organisations are rising to the challenge with major investment in research, infrastructure and drug development, but we must act now to avoid a return to a pre-antibiotic era.


© Laura Shallcross 2015