The Nation Needs a Super Plan for Defeating Superbugs

March 18, 2014
by Laura Segal
Altarum Health Policy Forum

Since the 1940s, there have been tremendous advancements in infectious disease prevention efforts, vaccinations, antibiotics, and other treatments. These successes have made it possible for the majority of Americans to live significantly longer lives, which has also led to a shift in attention and resources toward managing and treating chronic disease at the expense of focusing on the significant dangers infectious diseases continue to pose.

Just last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the U.S. 2013 report, in which the agency published a list of 18 “nightmare bacteria” that are resistant or increasingly resistant to antibiotics or have become more common because of widespread use of antibiotics.

In a recent Vital Signs, CDC issued another warning that antibiotic prescribing practices are posing a significant threat to the future health and wealth of the United States, and the agency estimates that up to half of antibiotic use in humans and most antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary.

At the end of the year, we at the Trust for America’s Health along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseaseswhich noted that the number of antibiotics currently prescribed for humans per year in the United States is enough to treat four out of five Americans.

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