Yet another scientific study is warning of human deaths in the millions unless governments globally can rein in the overuse of antibiotics. The latest report calls for tough new rules in a bid to curb the rise of so-called "superbugs". This follows a report from scientists in China claiming the last line of antibiotic defense against disease had already been broken.
In farming around the world, antibiotics are used intensively to promote animal growth.
The drugs ultimately transferring to humans.
Doctors are also prescribing vast quantities – sometimes it’s claimed unnecessarily.
In short we’re awash with antibiotics and the bugs are rapidly developing a lethal resistance.
After a year-long study, economist Jim O'Neil and a world team of scientists are warning of an antibiotics apocalypse.
"The whole story is pretty scary. What is already killing 700,000 people a year around the world, if we don’t do something about the misuse or find new antibiotics in particular, by 2050 that 700,000 is going to be 10 million," Jim O'Neil said.
A study of pigs by scientists in China reported in November that bacteria like e.Coli has mutated to become resistant to the last line of antibiotic defenses.
O’Neil claims that was a cliffhanger moment.
"Because of its over usage, which we are discovering more and more evidence that’s it’s losing its effectiveness and that is the sort of scary thing that is implicit in the numbers that we’ve said about the future," Jim O'Neil said.
O’Neil was chosen to lead the latest investigation, because his role as an internationally recognised economist could assess the economic damage of losing our antibiotic defenses.
"So, my review is all about coming up with specific recommendations to influence the demand problem and the supply problem," Jim O'Neil said.
His report adds more weight to a growing body of scientific argument warning of the threat to mankind if usage and prescription guidelines aren’t put in place.
The task facing Jim O’Neil and his team of scientists is how to persuade government’s around the world and the pharmaceutical industry. But time is running out and they must act now.