Antibiotic shortages and AMR
31 October 2023
29 October 2023
The overuse of antibiotics is now widely recognised as one of the main factors contributing to antimicrobial resistance (AMR)—often called the “silent pandemic.” But what is less well known is that shortages of antibiotics also play a role in fueling AMR.
Scarce supplies of pediatric amoxicillin, used to treat Strep A, made headlines in the United Kingdom late last year, as a surge of infections left at least 19 children dead. Far from being an outlier, however, such shortfalls are common and pervasive, affecting countries across the world, and their consequences for both individuals’ health and AMR’s spread can be dire. That is because shortages of first-line antibiotics often lead to overuse of those that are specialised or kept in reserve for emergencies. Not only may these substitutes be less effective, but reliance on them increases the risk of drug resistance developing and infections becoming more difficult to treat in the long run.