UK & World News

  • 2 July 2014, 9:58

Superbugs 'Could Send UK Back To The Dark Ages'

Britain is to lead the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs which risk sending Britain "back to the Dark Ages", David Cameron will announce today.

Tens of thousands of people around the world are dying from infections caused by bugs that have become resistant to treatment, including salmonella and tuberculosis.

The World Health Organisation has warned that unless coordinated action is taken the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.

"This is not some distant threat, but something happening right now," the Prime Minister will say.

"If we fail, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again."

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: "We must act now on a global scale to slow down antimicrobial resistance.

"In Europe, at least 25,000 people a year already die from infections which are resistant to our drugs of last resort.

"New antibiotics made by the biotech and pharmaceutical industry will be central to resolving this crisis which will impact on all areas of modern medicine.

"I am delighted to see the Prime Minister taking a global lead by commissioning this review to help new antibiotics to be developed and brought to patients effectively."

David Cameron raised the issue with US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel when they met at the G7 summit in Brussels last month.

The initial 500,000 cost of the work will be met by the Wellcome Trust. Director Jeremy Farrar said: "Drug-resistant bacteria, viruses and parasites are driving a global health crisis.

"It threatens not only our ability to treat deadly infections but almost every aspect of modern medicine: from cancer treatment to Caesarean sections, therapies that save thousands of lives every day rely on antibiotics that could soon be lost.

"We are failing to contain the rise of resistance and failing to develop new drugs to replace those that no longer work. We are heading for a post-antibiotic age."

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