March 11, 2013 - 11:46 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The danger posed by growing resistance to antibiotics should be ranked along with terrorism on a list of threats to the nation, the UK government's chief medical officer for England has said, according to BBC News.
Professor Dame Sally Davies described it as a "ticking time bomb".
She warned that routine operations could become deadly in just 20 years if “we lose the ability to fight infection.”
Dame Sally urged the government to raise the issue during next month's G8 Summit in London.
Dame Sally said: "If we don't take action, then we may all be back in an almost 19th century environment where infections kill us as a result of routine operations. We won't be able to do a lot of our cancer treatments or organ transplants."
She said pharmaceutical companies needed to be encouraged to develop new drugs, because the manufacture of antibiotics was not viewed as profitable.
"We haven't had a new class of antibiotics since the late 80s and there are very few antibiotics in the pipeline of the big pharmaceutical companies that develop and make drugs," she said.
"We haven't as a society globally incentivized making antibiotics. It's quite simple - if they make something to treat high blood pressure or diabetes and it works, we will use it on our patients every day. Whereas antibiotics will only be used for a week or two when they're needed, and then they have a limited life span because of resistance developing anyway."
Dame Sally said action was needed to overcome this "market failure" and pointed to the Innovative Medicines Initiative - an EU funded body whose aim is to promote the development of new medicines.
Dame Sally's warning coincides with the publication of the second volume of her annual report which details the burden posed by infectious diseases.
The report says in decades to come we risk "losing the war" against microbes - and standard surgical procedures such as hip replacements could become riskier, as would treatments that suppress the immune system such as chemotherapy or organ transplant.