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Study: Global use of antibiotics grows, driving drug resistance

Global use of antibiotics grew 39% between 2000 and 2015, despite a potential global health crisis in antibiotic resistance, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Growth in antibiotic use was driven by "dramatic increases" in low- and middle-income countries, according to the study, which looked at human antibiotic consumption in 76 countries. The study was conducted by researchers from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, or CDDEP, Princeton University, ETH Zurich and the University of Antwerp.

Antibiotic resistance, the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic, is a global health issue that needs consistent surveillance along with policies to cut unnecessary use of antibiotics, CDDEP said.

Rates of worldwide antibiotic use increased to 15.7 defined daily doses, or DDDs, from 11.3 per 1,000 inhabitants per day between 2000 and 2015. A drug's DDD reflects its assumed average maintenance daily dose when used for its main indication by an adult.

Total global use of antibiotics grew 65% from 2000 to 2015, while use in low- to middle-income countries increased 114% during the same period. Further, global consumption rate of broad-spectrum penicillin, the most-used class of antibiotics, grew 36%. Use of new and last-resort antibiotic classes, including linezolid and carbapenems, increased significantly in almost all countries.

The research also found that consumption increases in low-income and middle-income countries were fueled mainly by economic growth, a pattern not seen in high-income countries.

Although results show a global increase in use of antibiotics during the study period, consumption in high-income countries decreased slightly, suggesting the possibility of reducing antibiotic consumption.

CDDEP director and study co-author Ramanan Laxminaraya called for action to preserve antibiotic effectiveness. He said little action has been taken on antibiotic resistance since the United Nations General Assembly recognized it as a global threat over a year ago.