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J Am Board Fam Med. 2007 Nov-Dec;20(6):533-9.

The role of poverty in antimicrobial resistance.

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  • 1Sutter Medical Group, Roseville, CA, USA.


Antimicrobial resistance is a worldwide problem that has deleterious long-term effects as the development of drug resistance outpaces the development of new drugs. Poverty has been cited by the World Health Organization as a major force driving the development of antimicrobial resistance. In developing countries, factors such as inadequate access to effective drugs, unregulated dispensing and manufacture of antimicrobials, and truncated antimicrobial therapy because of cost are contributing to the development of multidrug-resistant organisms. Within the United States, poverty-driven practices such as medication-sharing, use of "leftover" antibiotics, and the purchase and use of foreign-made drugs of questionable quality are likely contributing to antimicrobial resistance. However, there is currently a dearth of studies in the United States analyzing the socioeconomic and behavioral factors behind antimicrobial resistance in United States communities. Further studies of these factors, with an emphasis on poverty-driven practices, need to be undertaken in order to fully understand the problem of antimicrobial resistance in the United States and to develop effective intervention to combat this problem.

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