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Low-Income Countries Drive Rise In Global Antibiotic Use

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Scientists have long warned that the rise in antibiotic resistance worldwide is due to misuse of antibiotics.

Despite these warnings and the growing health crisis, findings of a new study have revealed that use of these drugs continues to soar.

Dramatic Increase In Global Antibiotic Use

The researchers of a new study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or PNAS, revealed that there was a dramatic increase in antibiotic use worldwide between the years 2000 and 2015.

The rate of antibiotic use rose 39 percent. The worldwide usage rose from 11.3 daily doses to 15.7 daily doses per 1,000 people over the 15-year study period.

Antibiotic Consumption In Low-Income And Middle-Income Countries

Study researcher Eili Klein, from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, and colleagues found that the surge in antibiotic consumption was primarily driven by an increase in antibiotic consumption in both low-income and middle-income countries.

The use of antibiotics has more than doubled in India during the study period. Increase in antibiotic use also jumped by 70 percent in China and 65 percent in Pakistan. The researchers said that some of the increase is attributed to population growth but sales of antibiotics generally went up.

Western countries did not experience a sharp increase in antibiotics use, but they were not also able to reduce the overall consumption of the drugs.

Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

The researchers said that the rise in global antibiotic use has implications on antimicrobial resistance. The use of antibiotics is the biggest driver for the evolution of drug-resistant superbug.

Whenever a bacteria is exposed to an antibiotic that failed to kill, it has the potential to develop resistance to the drug.

"While it's generally a positive that there's better access to effective antibiotics in these countries, there's the potential for serious problems down the road from overuse," said Klein.

"We know there's a lot of inappropriate use in high-income countries, and many of these lower income countries do not have the same controls in place."

Klein and colleagues said that the misuse of antibiotics globally need to be addressed as superbugs threaten the lives of many people.

"With antibiotic consumption increasing worldwide, the challenge posed by antibiotic resistance is likely to get worse," the researchers wrote in their study.

"While more study is needed to understand the risks of radical reductions in consumption, immediate strategies are necessary to reduce mortality among the millions of people who die from resistant infections annually."

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