A new report estimates that antibiotic-resistant infections could kill about 2.4 million by 2050 in Europe, North America and Australia The guard, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which produced the report, said antibiotic resistance was "one of the biggest threats to modern medicine".
The report encourages doctors to be more sensible when prescribing antibiotics and recommends regular hand washing to mitigate these effects. They also suggested that new test methods could be developed to determine which patients needed the most antibiotics.
Increasingly, microbes are developing resistance to antibiotics, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The report highlights Southern Europe as a problem, with Italy, Greece and Portugal leading the list of OECD nations in drug-related deaths. In Brazil, Indonesia and Russia, serious effects of these superbugs were expected.
In the US, it is estimated that 30,000 people will be killed by drug-resistant infections by 2050. Health costs were $ 65 billion this year. In the US, antibiotic resistance is projected to reach 25 percent in 2030, compared to 20 percent in 2005.
While the problem generally relates to resistance to first-line drugs being used as a primary defense against infection, the report assumes that resistance to second- and third-line drugs will also increase over time.
In England, health officials are trying to prevent patients from demanding antibiotics unless it is necessary. They warn that the drugs are often prescribed for the treatment of cough, sore throat and earache, which usually resolve without drugs.
The OECD report calls for short-term investment to save lives and longer-term spending. They say the rising drug resistance could be stopped for only $ 2 a person per year.
Tim Jinks, Head of Drug Resistant Infections at Wellcome Trust, a London-based biomedical research institution:
"This new OECD report provides important insights into how simple, cost-effective monitoring, prevention and control methods can save lives worldwide. Drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise worldwide and pose a fundamental threat to global health and development. This report provides further evidence that investing in coping with the problem is now saving lives and generating huge profits in the future. "