Antimicrobial drug resistance is a complex, long-range global crisis threatening the foundations on which modern medicine is built.

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Quick Overview

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a complex, long-range global crisis threatening the foundations on which modern medicine is built. At least 2 million people are infected annually with resistant bacteria in the United States, costing an estimated $20-35 billion and resulting in 23,000 deaths. AMR encompasses all microorganisms that become resistant to drugs that were once effective against them. Rising rates of drug resistance in infectious disease like tuberculosis (TB), HIV, and malaria, as well as hospital-acquired infections, have elevated the issue of AMR, precipitating high-level dialogues, both international and domestic, focused on the pressing question of how best to contain and respond to this trend. AMR is now recognized as a top tier health security threat: if common infections become once again deadly, we face a potential “post-antibiotic apocalypse.” Through a security lens, as resistance threats become increasingly endemic in high conflict, high instability regions, risks of military exposure and possible retransmission grow, threatening military readiness.

There are persistent challenges in the fight against AMR. Despite efforts at crafting global and national action plans, the global response to AMR continues to fall far short, creating vulnerabilities for all. Although rapid detection of resistance strains and identification of possible hot spots are critical for slowing the spread of AMR, 40 percent of the world’s 10 million AMR cases go undetected. Mobilization of civil society – community leaders, providers, the faith community – lags in the United States and elsewhere. Further, despite urgent need for both new products to replace those rendered ineffective by widespread resistance, there are persistent obstacles to research, development, and dissemination of new tools. Industrial innovation is discouraged by weak market conditions and awareness of the potential for evolving resistance to quickly render new drugs obsolete. Action is needed to raise public awareness, develop new research and development models, and strengthen U.S. and international approaches to combat AMR.

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