Hospitals warned antibiotics are being overused
Ireland is over-using too many so-called 'last defence' antibiotics which increase the risks of superbugs becoming untreatable, new figures reveal.
Antibiotic consumption figures for 2015 show Irish hospitals, among facilities in other countries, are high users of drugs like carbapenems which are last-line treatments for serious infections.
These drugs need to be used sparingly to avoid bugs becoming resistant to them.
The looming global threat of antibiotic resistance will be highlighted by eminent economist and epidemiologist Prof Ramanan Laxminarayan at the O'Brien lecture in UCD today.
Prof Laxminarayan, director and senior fellow at the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in Washington DC, has warned of "potentially catastrophic results" if antibiotic overuse is not curtailed.
He said it has the potential to claim 10 million lives by 2050 as more bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics.
Prof Laxminarayan, who is also a senior research scholar and lecturer at the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University, will deliver his lecture at the George Moore auditorium, in UCD's O'Brien centre for science.
He has warned that the spread of resistance "will place everyone at great risk in the decades to come as we face a future without effective antibiotics for several types of bacteria."
He added: "We must think twice before we tap into this resource for non-lifesaving purposes, like treating the flu.
"Patients and doctors need to view antibiotics as a 'finite source'."
The report on antibiotic use in hospitals by the disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said our consumption of carbapenems in Ireland has tripled since 2008 and peaked in 2014, with the figure for 2015 unchanged.
When E coli and related types of bacteria become resistant to almost everything else, carbapenems were until a few years ago the antibiotic to count on.
Increasing use of this family of antibiotics is happening because there are more bacteria where there is no other safe antibiotic that can be relied on. But the more they are used the faster resistance will arise.