Before antibiotics were discovered in the 20th century, contracting an infection could be a death sentence. Their discovery was a turning point in human history, revolutionizing medicine and saving countless lives. However, the growing burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the return to a world without antibiotics.
We all have a responsibility to address this threat, and it will take dedicated efforts from all sectors across health care – including patients – to make a difference.
One. Patients (all of us!): Be vigilant in prevention efforts and always use antibiotics correctly
We each play an important role in slowing the threat of AMR— starting with preventing infections that require antibiotics in the first place. Washing hands, preparing food hygienically and keeping up-to-date with vaccinations are all effective measures we can take to help avoid infections.
Another important action patients can take is using antibiotics only when they are needed. Always follow prescription directions and never share or take leftover antibiotics, which could contribute to the build-up of resistance. If your doctor believes antibiotics are not the correct treatment to help your condition, ask about other options. Taking antibiotics when they’re not needed may advance the spread of AMR. Bottom line: listen to your doctor.
Two. Health care professionals: Be a source of antibiotic guidance
Doctors and medical systems need to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. It’s up to the health care providers to ensure that the right treatment is given based on an accurate diagnosis. Hospitals should have a plan in place, with principles customized to their local needs, to guide the appropriate use of these medicines.
Three. Policymakers: Encourage antimicrobial innovation
To help slow the advance of AMR, we need new antibiotic options to stay one step ahead of the evolving bacteria. Governments can help. Incentives packages can provide a sustainable return on investment for new antimicrobials. Encouraging innovation would allow companies to invest in the research and development needed. As a result, this would help provide health care professionals around the world with the tools they need to help patients fighting infections.
Four. Industry leaders: Invest in new developments
Finally, the participation of leading biopharmaceutical companies is crucial to addressing the growing threat of AMR. Despite market challenges, MSD is one of the only large biopharmaceutical companies that remains committed to inventing new solutions through early- and late-stage research and development in infectious disease.
And, in an effort to affect widespread change, we’ve supported efforts around the world that aim to address this global threat through surveillance initiatives, collaborating with hospitals to fund education and implement effective programs, and advocating for substantial policy changes.
MSD is proud to be a leader in the effort to slow AMR. But we know we cannot solve the problem on our own. It’s up to all of us to take collective action, and we hope you’ll join our efforts and play your individual part.