Menu Report

How can we help?

What should I do with the unused/expired antibiotics that I have at home?

  • Never dispose of unused drugs in the toilet or sink.
  • Be informed on the safe, recommended methods for disposing or returning unused antimicrobial drugs.
  • For more information on safely disposing drugs and the risk associated with the presence of antimicrobials in the environment, check the Safer Pharma Campaign
  • If you live in Europe, you can find out more on the national collection schemes for drugs on
  • If you live in the US you can find information on safely disposing medication with the EPA.

If we do not take adequate action, what will happen in the future?

Unless drastic measures are taken to contain the proliferation of drug-resistant microbes, resistant infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050 and lead to an economic slowdown comparable to the global financial crisis of 2008.

Any of us could be the next victim of AMR. According to United Nations experts, in the next 30 years 2.4 million people in Europe, North America, and Australia could die from drug-resistant infections. As life-saving antibiotics stop being effective, AMR could end our capacity to combat infections and halt all surgical procedures. (AMR Review 2016WHO 2019).

Drug-resistant infections are foreseen to cost the world more than the current global economy – the predicted amount is as high as $100 trillion (EUR 88 trillion) in lost output between now and 2050 (World Bank Group, 2016).

How do we overcome the problem of AMR at the community level?

  • Rational use of antibiotics: often, patients will not be prescribed or take the adequate antimicrobials (e.g. because of misdiagnosis, no diagnosis done, using previously bought antibiotics etc.), which is a significant contributor to AMR. There is a need for public and professional education on the adequate and rational use of antimicrobials.
  • Over-the-counter antibiotics: buying antibiotics over-the-counter, without medical advice, is an ideal breeding ground for AMR. Their use has been reported to vary from 3% in Northern Europe studies to 100% in African studies (Morgan et al., 2011). There needs to be an urgent development of further regulatory control over these over-the-counter antibiotics.
  • Guidelines for the use of antibiotics at local levels: when planning a treatment strategy that involves antimicrobials it is important to understand which pathogens are most common in your community and whether they have exhibited any signs of resistance in the past.
  • Standards of hygiene: when dealing with infections, whether as a professional, patient or household member, hygiene standards need to be stressed to prevent the spread of microbes (e.g. alcohol-based hand rubs).


Does the food we buy in the supermarkets contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

Due to the use of antimicrobials in husbandry, resistant microbes develop in animals during their growth and can stay in the meat/egg/milk post slaughter. In turn, these bacteria can potentially survive through the food chain, end up on our plate and then cause potentially severe illnesses in humans with few antimicrobials available to treat (WHO, 2017). Some common examples of pathogens often found in food are Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli.

Why are there so few new antibiotics being produced?

Developing a new antibiotic is time consuming, costly and, most of all, not guaranteed to succeed. As such, it is a risky endeavour for pharmaceutical companies to partake in. Furthermore, with AMR on the rise, newly developed antibiotics should be preserved except for when absolutely needed. Because of these constraints, the market for them is shrinking. All of this makes the development of new antibiotics unattractive for the private sector.

A number of companies are producing antibiotics (IFPMA, 2015) (Access to Medicine Foundation, 2018), but many of these are only variations on existing antibiotics. Such ventures are a safer bet for companies to invest in because less research is needed and approvals are faster due to similarities to existing approved drugs. However, these slightly modified antibiotics only overcome resistance for a short period of time.