, /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Decades of inaction to curb the overuse of life-saving antibiotics by physicians, dentists, patients, and farmers has created hard-to-treat "superbugs" that are spreading and growing stronger, with dire consequences, according to Consumer Reports, the world's largest and most trusted nonprofit consumer organization. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the unrestrained use of antibiotics sickens at least 2.25 million Americans each year and kills another 37,000 people.
"The Rise of Superbugs" is featured on ConsumerReports.org/superbugs and in the August issue of Consumer Reports magazine and is the first report in a three-part investigative series focused on America's antibiotic crisis. This introductory piece explains how the overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to the strengthening and spread of dangerous infections that are becoming resistant to these drugs. For example, resistant bacteria like MRSA were once confined to hospitals, but have now spread to otherwise healthy people in the community.
The remaining installments will examine the presence of superbugs in America's hospitals and the role antibiotics play in the U.S. meat supply.
"The emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is a major threat to the health and well-being of millions of Americans," said, prescription drugs editor, Consumer Reports. "The problem is fixable, but we must act quickly and work together to change our behaviors to preserve the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs."
A new nationally representative survey from Consumer Reports shows poor awareness among Americans about antibiotic resistance and widespread misinformation about its causes, with 41 percent of adults saying they are unaware of antibiotic resistance.
In addition, the overuse of antibiotics can kill "good" bacteria, leaving people susceptible to other difficult-to-treat bacterial infections, like C. difficile.
Officials from the CDC, World Health Organization, and European Union have all sounded the alarm, calling the rise of resistant bacteria one of the world's most serious health crises.
Consumer Reports says the crisis is compounded because the pipeline for new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle, with many broad-spectrum antibiotics introduced some 30 years ago. "We absolutely need new antibiotics," said, director of Consumer Reports' Safe Patient Project. "But we have to make sure that we don't lower the bar on standards for drug approval and that all new antibiotics have met pre-market assessments for safety and efficacy."
Consumer Reports recommends specific steps for reducing the use of antibiotics and curbing the development of drug-resistant bacteria, including:
Consumer Reports is committed to help wipe out the antibiotic-resistant bacteria or "superbugs" through coordinating among all of the organization's broad resources and channels.
As part of this initiative, Consumer Reports will participate in this week's Spotlight Health, a segment of the Aspen Ideas Festival; Board Chairwill moderate a panel on how to curb antibiotic overuse in the U.S. and around the world. And, earlier this month Consumer Reports' President and CEO was invited to participate in the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship.
In addition, Consumer Reports, through its participation in the Choosing Wisely initiative, is collaborating with seven U.S. healthcare organizations to focus on reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics for viral infections by at least 20 percent within three years.
Consumers Reports has created a special page at ConsumerReports.org/superbugs featuring a wide range of information on superbugs and antibiotic resistance including videos, news articles, and social conversation. Consumers can follow the conversation on Twitter at #SlamSuperbugs.