Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Consumption of Antibiotics Jumps 46% in 20 Years

Consumption of Antibiotics Jumps 46% in 20 Years

Saturday, 20 November, 2021 - 07:15
A 3-D computer-generated image of a group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbug”. Photo: AP/US Centers for Disease Control

Global antibiotic consumption rates increased by 46 percent in the last two decades, according to the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) Project carried out by the University of Oxford.

The project aims at establishing accurate estimates on the size and directions of the antibiotic resistant bacteria crisis worldwide, to use them in setting treatment guidelines, detection of emerging problems, and development of the right strategies.

During the study, the researchers analyzed the antibiotic consumption rates in 204 countries from 2000 to 2018, and found they increased drastically, by 46 percent in the last two decades. The findings were published in Lancet Planetary Health on November 18, on the occasion of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (November 18 to 24).

High rates of antibiotic consumption were seen in North America, Europe and the Middle East, which were contrasted by very low rates of consumption in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

The largest increases in antibiotic consumption rates were seen in the North Africa and Middle East region, and the highest rates of penicillin consumption were observed in the High-Income super-region and the lowest in South Asia. In the same region, consumption rates for fluoroquinolones increased 1.8 fold and for third-generation cephalosporin 37 fold during the study period.

"These findings reveal the huge task ahead, implementing and delivering the WHO Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, which relies on optimizing antibiotic use and reducing the incidence of infections," said Professor Christiane Dolecek, the study's lead author and GRAM scientific lead.

Excessive and over-the-counter consumption of antibiotics is a major contributor of antibiotic resistance, which could kill up to 10 million people by 2050, estimates the World Health Organization (WHO). The unnecessary demand on these drugs should be controlled in order to avoid the aggravation of antibiotic resistance infections.

Editor Picks