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6. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

Rosemary square.jpgWithout new antimicrobial discovery and drug development, some fear we will return to a pre-antibiotic era where open wounds (that you might get during outdoor activities or hospital surgeries) and being in crowded spaces (like concerts, parties, and care homes) could lead to illness or death.

This is the threat of AMR, and it’s not a far-away future. The WHO and other sources think that AMR could kill up to 10 million people per year by 2050.

In some parts of the world, this is already a big concern. There were 1.27 million deaths caused by AMR in 2019, though it’s also hard to know the real number because people will often have a different illness or injury that harms them first, but what they actually die of is a resistant infection that comes later.

Also, most of these deaths happen in places where there is less health care that people can access, either because they live far from hospitals, because they can’t afford to pay doctors, or because the health care system is over-burdened or under-staffed. Antibiotic innovation is particularly needed in these areas.

Magnifying Glass smallDo you think governments should do more to help scientists discover new antibiotics?

Often, governments take on responsibility to support medical science and innovation. For most medicines, that’s easy, because drug companies have financial reason to develop new medicines: to sell them! But this isn’t quite true for antimicrobials.

Since we need to protect and steward our antimicrobials, it’s important not to use too many of them. That limits how much money drug companies can expect to make back on antimicrobials that they spend money researching and making.

To help solve this problem, some governments are starting to offer science money specifically for antimicrobial research. Others might offer tax credits for drug companies developing antibiotics. Still, even with government help, progress is slow. We might need to look at alternatives to antibiotics altogether.