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Government-commissioned report on the rise of antimicrobial resistance

September 1998

While resistance to antibiotics had been regarded as a problem since the 1950s, the report noted that whole new classes of antimicrobial drugs had been developed in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1980s and 1990s, new drugs had primarily been within those classes. This meant that, while drug development had previously kept pace with resistance, this progress had stalled and resistance was on the rise.

'The path of least resistance' report set out a number of recommendations to address antimicrobial resistance, including that:

  • the prescribing of antibiotics in general practices should follow best practice, and should not be prescribed in situations where they would not be effective, for example in the treatment of the common cold
  • the use of antibiotics in animals should only be for those clinical conditions where their use would be likely to provide a genuine health benefit, and that alternative means of animal husbandry should be developed
  • research into antimicrobial resistance should become a high priority for all funding bodies concerned with health care and biomedical research.

Standing Medical Advisory Committee: Sub-Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.
The path of least resistance.
Department of Health; 1998.