What Is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

Darryl BowersInterview
Director of Pharmacy
Emergency Hospital Systems.
Darryl oversees and is responsible for the successful operations of the Pharmacy at EHS. He holds a Registered Pharmacy License in the State of Texas and a Board Licensed Consultant Pharmacist in the State of Florida.

Darryl has been in pharmacy since 1997 and is working on creating a successful Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at EHS.

AMR is becoming a severe threat to humanity as more bacteria and viruses become more resistant to antibiotics and treatment. There are several reasons why this is occurring, and there are several things that people can do to help prevent the growth of AMR.

In this article, we talk about AMR with Darryl Bowers, EHS Director of Pharmacy.

What is antimicrobial resistance (AMR)? And why is it so important to combat it?

Antibiotic Resistance is a critical topic involving healthcare solutions and advocacy. Now we are seeing all over the World bacteria that are simply untreatable. Millions of people are infected each year with a drugresistant superbug, and a major ethical dilemma on how to combat this problem.

It has been said that by the year 2050, our antibiotics will be so useless due to resistance that the annual death of infectious diseases will be 10 million people yearly. As a matter of fact, it will be the #1 cause of death. Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria deaths will far exceed Cancer.

Why does AMR happen?
There are many reasons. Public Health Officials estimate that 1/3 of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are unnecessary or inappropriate. This is because most of them are for self-limiting infections or viral infections that do not benefit from the antibiotic, and this overprescribing can lead to potential resistance.

Another cause of resistance is compliance. Many people need to be more compliant with their treatment.

They take their course of treatment for a certain number of days and don’t complete it. This allows resistant bacteria to survive in the body, which has been known to increase the risk of developing resistance.

Also, there is a tremendous amount of antibiotic use in agriculture. Often this use is not to treat the animals for infection. It’s used to accelerate their growth. This allows them to reach market size sooner. This is a problem because the resistance strains in farm animals will make their way into the homes of people who consume these animals.

The last reason I would like to share with you why AMR is happening is that pharmaceutical companies have cut back on producing new antibiotics. It costs around 1 billion dollars to bring a drug to market. Pharmaceutical companies ask themselves why to spend a billion dollars on a product that will be used for only 7 to 10 days. They would prefer to take that billion and spend on a drug that the patient would take for weeks, years, or a lifetime (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetic med.)

What are the consequences of AMR?
I recently read an article that mentioned the British government, in collaboration with the Welcome Trust, estimated our current trajectory if we don’t do anything to change. There will be as many as 300 million excess deaths due to antibiotic resistance by 2050. We are currently around 750K globally annually to date. We must understand this is not a town, city, or country problem; this is a global problem. Is there a way that people can help stop the spread of drug-resistant infections?

If so, what can people do to prevent AMR?
First, I would like to appeal to the people to stop requesting and demanding antibiotics. Secondly, I want to appeal to all healthcare providers to become better stewards of prescribing and administering antibiotics. Providers should do their due diligence in finding the causative agents and prescribe antibiotics accordingly. That means requesting lab tests and setting 48-to-72-time-out protocols to reexamine the need for continued antibiotic treatment. Lastly, hospitals need to ensure they have adequate infection control systems.

I want to end by saying this: I do not hate the use of antibiotics, and the thought of life without antibiotics is barely imaginable. As a matter of fact, antibiotics have cured more diseases than all the other drug classes combined. However, the life-or-death challenge/battle to survive these organisms have mutated through evolution, and this mutation has augmented the resistance.
Darryl Bowers can be reached at:

Darryl Bowers can be reached at: dbowers@emergencyhs.care

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