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Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2002 Aug;15(4):395-400.

Antibiotic policies and control of resistance.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.



The current worldwide pandemic of antibiotic resistance shows no signs of abating. It is clear that it is driven mainly by heavy and often inappropriate antibiotic use. Although control measures are widely practised, it is important that we assess their efficacy critically in order to concentrate expensive control efforts where they will be most effective. The past year has seen much activity in this area, with evidence-based assessments of the literature according to strict guidelines, as well as progress in basic science studies of mechanisms of resistance, and their causes and relations to pathogenicity and adaptability.


The present review summarizes current developments in the causes of antibiotic resistance, the classification of antibiotic stewardship and control measures, the evidence base for their efficacy, current problems in hospital practice, the adaptability of bacteria, the content of antibiotic policies and anticipated activities.


The conclusions from the published literature are that much of it that pertains to changing prescribing practices does not stand up to modern evidence-based analysis concepts. Nevertheless, we can learn from experience in changing other areas of medical practice. We must be pragmatic and must not expect to change the world, but rather take it step by step, recognizing barriers and measuring outcomes and quality indicators. Studies into the molecular basis of resistance confirm the superb genetic adaptability of micro-organisms. They will always be several steps ahead of us. Nevertheless, we are learning how to modify our prescribing habits to minimize resistance, not only by using antibiotics less frequently but also by altering dosing schedules in various ways.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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