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Intensive Care Med. 1990;16 Suppl 3:S206-11.

The emergence of antibiotic resistance: myths and facts in clinical practice.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine, London, UK.


Selection pressure, caused by the use of antibiotics--especially in hospitals--is the main factor responsible for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Resistance can arise endogenously by mutation (one-step, as found for Mycobacterium tuberculosis to rifampicin, or multi-step, as in gonococci to benzylpenicillin), or exogenously by transfer of R-factors. Mechanisms of resistance may involve a decrease in permeability, chemical modification of the antibiotic, or a change in the affinity of the target site. There are many misconceptions concerning the incidence, nature and spread of antibiotic resistance, and some of the most important of these are discussed. The emergence and spread of resistance can be controlled by adhering to antibiotic policies and by preventing or controlling outbreaks of infection. The importance of resistant organisms can be diminished by the development of new antibiotic agents, preferably containing new chemical entities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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