Greeks are top EU consumers of antibiotics

Greece
Wed, 16 Nov 2022 5:26 GMT
Despite a decline during the coronavirus pandemic, Greece still topped all EU member-states in the consumption of antibiotics outside hospitals, doctors say.
Greeks are top EU consumers of antibiotics

Despite a decline during the coronavirus pandemic, Greece still topped all EU member-states in the consumption of antibiotics outside hospitals, doctors say.

Excessive consumption of antibiotics risks making viruses more resistant to them. This has been repeated by doctors for decades. But there is more: The current generation of antibiotics, developed decades ago, is fast approaching the end of its usefulness, and deaths from resistant strains of viruses are expected to increase nearly eightfold if development of newer drugs continues at a snail’s pace.

In 2020, consumption of antibiotics outside hospitals in Greece was 26.4 defined daily doses (DDD) per 1,000 inhabitants, a significant drop from 32.4 DDDs in 2000, but still nearly double the European Union average of 15 DDDs.

Stathis Skliros, a general practitioner and head of the Nemea Primary Health Center in the regional unit of Corinth, says the drop was expected, because, due to the pandemic restrictions, there were fewer visits to primary healthcare doctors.

But patients also tend to self-medicate, often keeping antibiotics past their shelf life. About 30% of Greek patients use antibiotics left over from previous treatments, on their own and without turning to doctors for guidance, says Skliros.

In the EU, 33,000 people die annually from resistant virus strains and 1.3 million globally. But resistant strains will continue to proliferate, as the current generation of antibiotics, developed mostly from 1930 through 1970, continues to be used, says Skliros. And pharmaceuticals firms shy away from developing new drugs, because research is expensive. Since 2017, just eight new antibiotics have been approved, of which only two represent a new “scaffold,” or stable configuration of two or more proteins. As a result, deaths from resistant viruses are expected to top 10 million annually by 2050.

kathimerini

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