Superbugs Could Eventually Kill More People Than Cancer

Jason Millman | The Washington Post | December 12, 2014

The world could have a deadly and expensive problem on its hands if the growing fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria stays on the same track, according to a dire new warning.  The so-called superbugs, if left unchecked, could result in 10 million deaths each year by 2050 — more than the number of people killed by cancer — and put a $100 trillion dent in the global economy, according to a new report commissioned by United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron. The analysis, which projects a 2 percent to 3.5 percent drop in global economic output, comes from RAND Europe and KPMG.

Overuse and abuse of antibiotics has helped build up bacterial resistance making it hard to fight off many common illnesses. Superbugs already cause 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States alone each year.

The report, authored by former Goldman Sachs executive Jim O'Neill, says the anticipated effects of the worst-case scenario could be understated. Failure to contain the antimicrobial resistance could undermine a heavy reliance on prophylactic antibiotics provided during surgery. "In a world where antibiotics do not work, this measure would become largely useless and surgery would become far more dangerous," the report states...