effective use of antibiotics; evidence-based regulation, with transparent balancing of risks and benefits; and as already exemplified in genome projects, social investment in the underlying science needed to develop new antimicrobial agents. Also, because antimicrobial drug resistance is increasingly known to be a global problem, it can be addressed only with international cooperation, at a minimum in the acquisition and sharing of information. Whatever frictions might ensue from shaping and implementing such policies would be more than offset by the savings in medical and hospital costs and, most importantly, by the deaths and disability avoided.

NOTES

1.  

American Society for Microbiology. New and Reemerging Infectious Diseases: A Global Crisis and Immediate Threat to the Nation's Health, The Role of Research. Washington, D.C.: American Society for Microbiology, 1997.

2.  

Finland M, et al. Occurrence of serious bacterial infections since introduction of antibacterial agents. Journal of the American Medical Association 170:2188-2197, 1959.

3.  

Phelps CE. Bug/drug resistance. Medical Care 27:194-203, 1989. As reported in Levy SB. The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle. New York: Plenum, 1992.

4.  

Martone WJ, WR Jarvis, DH Culver, et al. Incidence and nature of endemic and epidemic nosocomial infections. In Hospital Infections, Third Edition. JV Bennett and PS Brachman, eds. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

5.  

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Impacts of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (OTA-H-629). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995.

6.  

Current and past members are Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, and Uruguay.

7.  

There is some improvement in the funding picture for global activities related to surveillance, including the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance. In December 1997, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the allocation of an additional $50 million for the control of infectious diseases in countries other than the United States. Priorities for splitting the allocation are the "control of tuberculosis, control of malaria, improved surveillance of disease outbreaks, and a broad effort to detect and limit drug-resistant microbes. The latter is an area of particular concern because it does not yet have a coordinated global program in place." Decisions on specific allocations are scheduled for the first part of 1998, with enhancement or expansion of existing programs of WHO, CDC, and other organizations the most likely use of the funds (ProMEDa-mail 97[309], December 22, 1997).



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