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At least 23,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, more than the 15,000 who die from AIDS, as stated in the reports of the US Centers for Disease Control. Antibiotics have been commonly available since the 1940s and, they have saved countless amounts of lives from infections. However, germs that are genetically predisposed to survive these drugs have grown more numerous, some even transmitting resistance to other germs.

This situation has resulted in a never-ending race between nature and pharmaceutical researchers trying to develop new medicines to combat the dangerous germs. However, the number of new antibiotics entering the market has fallen in recent years, and even many of the newest aren’t that effective. Pharmaceutical research spending has shrunk in the last three years.

Another issue is overprescription of antibiotics for sore throats and mild respiratory infections, even after the CDC declared antibiotic resistance as a serious health threat in September. Its report stated that unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions to adults with sore throats cost the United States more than $500 million from 1997-2010. Researchers are calling for a further intervention to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics, particularly for patients, who are not likely to benefit from taking them.

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Part of the problem of overprescribing is patient demand. Patients go to the doctor with the idea that the solution to their problem comes in the form of a pill. They ask for antibiotics because they assume they will make them feel better. Many doctors have also made a habit of prescribing antibiotics because of a lack of knowledge about antibiotic resistance, as well as a precautionary effort to overmedicate their patients.

Overuse of antibiotics is one reason antibiotics are becoming less effective, making infections harder to treat. The chances of resistance increase when antibiotics are not used long enough or are taken for the wrong reasons, allowing bacteria to survive and adapt. This in turn has given way to an increasing amount of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

The american government is taking some action to solve these problems, giving a grant of $40 million to GlaxoSmithKline company for an antibiotic research program.

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“Antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be more dangerous than AIDS”

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