Many diseases are caused by pathogenic bacteria and other microbes. These diseases include various epidemic illnesses and also tuberculosis, pneumonia, blood infection (sepsis), leprosy and syphilis. Antibiotics are chemicals toxic to such microbes. Antimicrobial drug resistance results from the rapid ability of microbes to reproduce and so evolve strains resistant to antibiotics. The use of antibiotics actually speeds up the process of adaptation; therefore, microbial drug resistance is not a passing trend but likely a permanent feature in the fight against infectious diseases.
Across the world, people are dying as result of infections which do not respond to any of the 160 different antibiotics on the market. "Pan-drug resistant bacteria" have been found on every continent on earth. Bacteria have developed resistance to every antibiotic in our arsenal. Acute infectious diseases are re-emerging as a serious threat to health in advanced industrialized countries due to the growing resistance of microbes to antibiotic drugs.
By 2050, annual deaths due to antibiotic resistance are expected to reach: 317,000 in North America; 390,000 in Europe; 4.15 Million in Africa; 4.73 Million in Asia
Each year, in the United States alone, at least 23,000 people are dying of antibiotic-resistant infections and related complications (2018). According to the CDC, at least 2,049,442 people already become ill with antibiotic resistant infections in the U.S. each year.
80% of the antibacterial drugs sold in the US were used on animals, primarily for agricultural production. An April 2016 study found that antibiotic-resistance has likely become "the norm, rather than the exception" in commercial meat production facilities.
In March 2015, the White House issued their National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The plan calls for the end of antibiotic misuse and over-use in healthcare and food production. Initial findings indicate that nearly 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions written in the U.S. is inappropriate or unnecessary.
Drug resistance is regarded as the key driver of the increased sales of antibiotics, following a slump in the 1980s. The worldwide market for antibiotics was worth $20 billion in 1991, 12% up on 1990. Estimates of the total cost of antibiotic resistance in the USA range up to $30 billion a year.
Russian public health would benefit more if infected prisoners were let die rather than giving them partial drug treatment which builds up resistance to the disease. Some patients have acquired resistance to all drugs currently in use.
Research on bacteria from the frozen corpses of 19th Century arctic explorers has proven that substances other than antibiotics can make bacterial strains become resistant to antibiotics. It is suggested that such resistance may be induced by the body's reaction to heavy metals and that environmental pollution could contribute significantly to the development of this resistance.