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Consumer Reports targets antibiotic-resistant superbugs

The misuse of antibiotics is breeding new bacteria that kill thousands of people and make millions sick every year. Join Consumer Reports’ fight to stop the spread of these superbugs.

Published: June 02, 2015 06:00 AM

Antibiotics have saved millions of lives since they were first prescribed nearly 75 years ago. But unrestrained use of these drugs, in humans and animals, has also had unexpected and dangerous consequences—breeding “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics and triggering infections that sicken at least 2.25 million Americans each year and kill 37,000.

To combat that problem, Consumer Reports today announced its commitment to help rein in  antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The initiative kicks off with Consumer Reports President and CEO Marta Tellado participating in the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship. "Antibiotic-resistant infection is the health crisis of our generation,” Tellado says. “The only way we are going to make progress is by taking bold steps, and we welcome the White House Forum as one of those steps.”

The initiative also includes an upcoming investigative Consumer Reports series on antibiotic resistance, including their overuse and misuse, the surge of superbugs in hospitals, and the role that antibiotics play in the production of our meat supply. Part one, “How to Stop a Superbug,” will appear in the August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine and on 

Photo: CDC

Consumer Reports supports these steps in the fight against superbugs:  

  • Require hospitals and health-care providers to report antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Mandatory real-time reporting by hospitals and health care providers of antibiotic-resistant outbreaks.
  • Better tests, so doctors can more easily tell which infections are caused by bacteria (which can be cured with antibiotics) and those caused by viruses (which can't).
  • Rigorous pre-market safety tests for new antibiotics.
  • A ban on using antibiotics on healthy food animals.

This week, Consumer Reports also announces its collaboration with seven U.S. health care organizations to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics. The campaign is supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for Choosing Wisely, a patient and physician education initiative overseen by the ABIM Foundation.  

Later this month, Consumer Reports Board Chair Diane Archer will moderate a panel on the issue of antibiotic overuse at Spotlight Health, at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Consumer Reports has highlighted the issue of antibiotic overuse for many years, most notably through its Safe Patient Project and ongoing testing of bacteria in meat for antibiotic resistance. It has also been urging meat producers to end the use of antibiotics in healthy food animals.

For more information:

Click on the video above to watch a video of the June 2, 2015 White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship. (Mobile users: Click on this link to watch the video.)

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