Blog | Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The world will end in 2050 because of resistance


UK Prime Minister David Cameron requested a review of the health and economic burden of antimicrobial resistance in July. Quicker than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, economist Jim O’Neill has delivered his report and the results are surprising (at least for those who don't follow this blog).

Utilizing commissioned studies from KPMG and Rand Europe, the Review estimates that the economic losses attributable to antimicrobial resistance will total $100 trillion and 10 million excess deaths will occur annually by 2050. In fact deaths due to resistance will surpass other major causes of death even the 8.2 million due to cancer. Of course, cancer deaths might rise due to the fact that we can no longer safely give chemotherapy without effective antibiotics. The report covers these issues in a sobering section titled: ”The secondary health effects of AMR: a return to the dark age of medicine?”

Good times.

The independent review will outline recommendations for an international response by 2016. Just for reference, $100.2 trillion is 6 times the size of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product for 2013. Perhaps this will wake up the world to antimicrobial resistance?

Eli N. Perencevich, MD, ACP Member, is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist in Iowa City, Iowa, who studies methods to halt the spread of resistant bacteria in our hospitals (including novel ways to get everyone to wash their hands). This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.