How do we fix antibiotic resistance?

Microbes are continually evolving, so we will always need new antibiotics. The challenge comes because drug-resistant bacteria – antibiotic-resistant microbes – are developing faster than new antibiotics can reach the market.

Working in partnership is the only way we can tackle the drug resistant infections which could overwhelm our heath service. That’s why being #TogetherForAntibiotics is so important. No one person, company, research organisation or government is going to solve this issue alone.

What is the pharmaceutical industry doing?

Pharmaceutical companies continue to fund the long-term and expensive research and development into these new medicines.

But there is a problem. This research in being used to develop something you hope will never need to be used – a last line of defence. This gap means only a few companies are carrying out the research.

The pharmaceutical industry launched a $1 billion investment fund to bridge the funding gaps facing antibiotic developers in the hope of bringing 2–4 new antibiotics to the market in 2030.

But we can’t do this alone. We are working with national governments, and through international alliances to try and find workable solutions.

What can governments like the UK do?

There is an urgent need for public policy reforms to create a market for sustainable investment into new antibiotics.

1. New innovative approaches are to encourage R&D investment into new antibiotics.

2. A suite of incentives to encourage R&D must be explored as there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to solving the AMR crisis.

What can you do?

According to the World Health Organisation there are lots of things that you can do to help us tackle antibiotic resistance including:

  • Only using antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional, such as your doctor.
  • Never demanding antibiotics if your doctor says you don’t need them. Antibiotics won’t treat viral infections, for example.
  • Always following the doctor’s advice when using antibiotics and complete the full course your prescribed.
  • Never sharing or using leftover antibiotics, such as those which are out of date.
  • Trying to prevent infections in the first place, for example by regularly washing your hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.
  • You can also help to raise awareness of this issue, whether through social media, with your friends and family or raise it with your MP.

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023