Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, a diarrhea-causing superbug and a class of fast-growing killer bacteria dubbed a "nightmare" were classified as urgent public-health threats in the United States on Monday.
According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 2 million people in the United States develop serious bacterial infections that are resistant to one or more types of antibiotics each year, and at least 23,000 die from the infections.
"For organism after organism, we're seeing this steady increase in resistance rates," Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a telephone interview. "We don't have new drugs about to come out of the pipeline. If and when we get new drugs, unless we do a better job of protecting them, we'll lose those, also."
Overprescribing of antibiotics is a chief cause of antibiotic resistance, affording pathogens the opportunity to outwit the drugs used to treat them. Only a handful of new antibiotics have been developed and brought to market in the past few decades, and only a few companies are working on drugs to replace them.