Bupa leads push to stop antibiotic overuse

The chief medical officers of some of the world's biggest employers are urging people to stop antibiotic overuse as common treatments become less effective.

Members of the Global Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Network have signed a pledge on antimicrobial resistance that urges companies to support the appropriate use of antibiotics, as antibiotic overuse and antibiotic resistance is on the rise. The CMO Network is a group of some of the world’s largest employers, powered by Bupa.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – when bacteria no longer responds to the antibiotics designed to kill them – is one of the biggest threats to global health. It can lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased rates of mortality.

Around half of all antibiotics are prescribed for the wrong reason, which is speeding up antibiotic resistance. The pledge includes several achievable actions that can change everyday behaviour to make a real impact and better support the health and wellbeing of those around us. More information on the initiative, including an FAQ on antibiotic resistance.

What some of the top Chief Medical Officers have to say about antibiotic overuse

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, Bupa’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “Modern medicine relies on antimicrobials – and antibiotics in particular. They treat life-threatening infections and are vital to many medical advances, from basic surgery, to heart transplants and chemotherapy.

But, as bacteria develop resistance, antibiotics are starting to fail.”

Actions encouraged in the pledge include not requesting antibiotics when clinicians advise they are not needed, and not sharing or using leftover antibiotics. It also covers preventing infection through regularly washing hands, keeping vaccinations up to date and preparing food hygienically.

Dr Zollinger–Read added: “Without urgent action against antibiotic overuse, we are heading for an era where common infections and minor injuries could once again kill. We urge companies and organisations to join us in signing the pledge against antibiotic resistance, and take steps to preserve the power of antibiotics for generations to come.”

Companies in the Global CMO Network include Unilever, GSK and IBM, and employ around eight million people combined. Each signatory has committed to take action to support global efforts to dramatically reduce the volume of antibiotics which are misused and, in turn, slow resistance.

Elizabeth Hermsen, Head of Global Antimicrobial Stewardship, Merck, said: “The World Health Organization’s Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan and various country-level action plans have called for multi-sector stakeholder collaboration to address the global public health threat of AMR. This pledge from the CMO Network is an exemplar of how the private sector can help to conserve the precious, shared resource of antibiotics through relatively easy, actionable approaches that any company could implement."

Murray Stewart, Chief Medical Officer, GSK, added: “Antibiotic overuse and resistance is a huge concern for society. We need to ensure future drug development continues to find novel ways of tackling this problem, and avoid the potential clinical consequences of morbidity and mortality.”

Bupa is taking urgent action to educate employees and customers worldwide on antibiotic overuse, in order to support their health and wellbeing and to help them live longer, healthier, happier lives.


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