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Antibiotics: Prof’s grim warning

London - The “golden age of antibiotics” is coming to an end, a leading doctor has warned.

Anorexia and bulimia might be effectively treated using antibiotics, scientists say. Credit: sxc

Professor Jeremy Farrar, the new director of Britain’s biggest medical research charity, the Wellcome Trust, said infections could become untreatable as a result.

“This is happening now,” he said.

“What we will see is people actually spending longer in hospital, patients getting sicker and having complications and dying, and it will creep up on us almost without us noticing.”

He said complacency set in during the 1970s and 1980s when antibiotics could have been used more wisely to stave off resistance to the drugs developing.

Farrar, who spent 18 years working in Vietnam where he witnessed resistance to TB drugs, said access to antibiotics needed to be regulated because they were available over the counter at low cost in many countries.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No government can do this on its own because this is a truly global issue.

“This is getting to the tipping point where … we will start to see this, not in infections many, many miles away, but here in London.”

Farrar is the latest expert to warn of impending disaster from antibiotic resistance.

Last year, England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies warned that resistance to antibiotics was a “ticking time bomb” and one of the greatest threats to modern health.

Davies said many of the drugs are being used unnecessarily for mild infections or illnesses – which is helping to create resistance.

About half the UK population do not know antibiotics are inappropriate to treat colds, influenza and viruses, according to evidence given to the Commons Science and Technology Committee. – Daily Mail

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