The UK aims to reduce use of antibiotics by 15% over the next five years
Resistance to antibiotics is a worldwide problem and an emergency that could be as serious a threat to human beings as climate change.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed a plan to reduce the amount of prescribed antibiotics by 15% over the next five years.
Doctors are now being pressured not to over-prescribe antibiotics, however the big Pharma companies are financially incentivised to sell as many as they can. In an attempt to overcome this problem, NHS England and NICE are apparently looking at ways of reimbursing these Pharma companies according to the value of their medicines, rather than simply by the amount of the drug sold.
In addition, smaller Pharma companies are to be reimbursed if they can develop new strategies or systems to overcome strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
Whilst there has been a 7% reduction in the use of antibiotic prescriptions since 2014, the number of bloodstream drug-resistant infections has increased massively by 35% since 2013.
What NICE and NHS England seem to have failed to absorb is the fact that 70% of antibiotics prescribed globally are given to animals that we subsequently eat, hence antibiotic resistance develops very early on in the food chain – a recent article in The Week highlighted the fact that some 20% of Waitrose chickens has antibiotic-resistant bacteria in them.
Clearly there is more work to be done.