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Health & Physiology

How much can antibiotic prescription rates be reduced through targeted interventions?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant concern due to the difficulty in treating infections and increased risks during even standard medical procedures. To develop strategies against AMR, we need a global effort to address it through evidence-based policies and research.

Credits: Pexels
by Kyaw Zay Ya | PhD student

Kyaw Zay Ya is PhD student at Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

, Mark Lambiris | Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Mark Lambiris is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University of Basel.

, Günther Fink | Professor 

Günther Fink is Professor  at Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Edited by

Isa Ozdemir

Senior Scientific Editor

Views 1020
Reading time 3 min
published on Oct 11, 2023
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is when bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi become resistant to the drugs used to treat infections. This can occur either naturally, or because people overuse and misuse antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics, which can speed up the development of resistance. AMR is a significant issue because it makes the treatment of infections more challenging and can even make it dangerous. This means that illnesses are becoming more difficult to cure; therefore, it poses trouble for doctors to help their patients. Even some safe surgeries and procedures can become risky if an infection can't be treated. Additionally, some diseases that were once easy to treat, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia, are now harder to manage because of drug resistance. The reduction in antimicrobial drug performance results in prolonged treatment and risks in performing clinical procedures such as caesarean sections, joint replacements, and treatments that may impair the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer. The emerging threat of drug resistance was also seen in infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, fungal infections, and tuberculosis. The presence of effective antibiotics is crucial in healthcare settings, for instance, in performing major surgical procedures such as organ transplants. 
To overcome AMR, there is a constant need for new drugs. However, developing new drugs is expensive and challenging, and there is a shortage of new medicines/ antibiotics in the pipeline. Additionally, the lack of information about how AMR spreads makes it harder to fight. Therefore, it is crucial to reduce the use of current medicines to preserve their effectiveness as much as possible. 
One way to reduce the overuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines is through antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs). These programs aim to optimize the use of antibiotics and delay the development and spread of drug resistance. However, it is essential to ensure that these policies are effectively implemented to address the problem of drug resistance. 
We conducted an extensive literature review to see how ASPs can reduce antibiotic use in a global context. Our recent study found that there have been many ASPs implemented in different settings, and they have been associated with a reduction in antibiotic consumption and prescriptions especially in pediatric care, where antibiotic use is particularly high. 
This problem is not just limited to one country or region and needs a globally coordinated effort to tackle it. Overall, the problem of AMR is significant and requires a global response to address it effectively. By implementing evidence-based policies and researching new solutions, we can help preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobial medicines and ensure that we can continue to treat infections effectively in the future. 
Original Article:
Zay Ya, K., Win, P. T. N., Bielicki, J., Lambiris, M., & Fink, G. (2023). Association Between Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs and Antibiotic Use Globally: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JAMA Network Open, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.53806

Edited by:

Isa Ozdemir , Senior Scientific Editor

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