‘300 million’ deaths likely if we ignore antibiotic resistance - former Belgian PM

By Oscar Rousseau contact

- Last updated on GMT

Experts warn of an antibiotics apocalypse -  when drugs cannot save us dying from bacterial infection
Experts warn of an antibiotics apocalypse - when drugs cannot save us dying from bacterial infection

Related tags: Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance

Failure to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could destabilise the global economy and lead to millions of deaths, the former Prime Minister of Belgium said in a letter to this site.

Mark Eyskens, formerly Prime Minister of Belgium in 1981 and now chairman of The Public Advice International Foundation, has called for a cut in meat consumption and a tax on antibiotics to curtail AMR.

In a letter to this site, Eyskens said action on AMR​ should be taken immmediately, calling for a revision of the EU’s action plan on the threat of a so-called antibiotics apocalypse​ – a time when medication can no longer stop us dying from bacterial infection.

Eyskens called the EU policy “substantially weaker​” than the proposals sent out in an EU report from 1999.

Academic journal Science​, published on 29 September 2017, suggested practical, science-backed policies that could “effectively reduce the overuse of antibiotics​”, Eyskens said. If adopted, the policies could reduce antibiotic use in animals by 80%. Failure to do so could see livestock antibiotic use rise twofold by 2030.

Eyskens’ AMR reduction policy demands rest on three pillars: regulation to cap the volume of antibiotic use to 50 milligrams per PCU (population correction unit) per year; a reduction in global meat consumption; and a 50% tax on top of the price for veterinary drugs to discourage usage.

Should some of the world’s leading powers, including the EU, the US, Canada and China, commit to capping usage, the projected 180,000-plus tonnes of antibiotics set to be consumed by 2030 could be cut by 60%, he said.

If a user fee were introduced on top of regular antibiotic prices, this could generate up to $4.6bn.

Read the full letter former Belgian Prime Minister Mark Eyskens sent to site below:

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