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Time to Limit Antibiotic Pollution

Over the last decade, antibiotic resistance has put increasing pressure on human healthcare and is estimated to account for 700,000 deaths every year (1). The use (and misuse) of antibiotics in both human medicine and agriculture is a well-known cause of resistance; a much-less discussed driver is the environmental discharge of pharmaceuticals (2). Both the development and spread of resistant bacteria in the environment can be promoted by antibiotic selection, and so release of antibiotics into the environment can accelerate the problem. Importantly, in contrast to the use of antibiotics, environmental discharges are not associated with any benefits – only risks.

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About the Authors

Johan Bengtsson-Palme

Is a doctoral student at the Department of Infectious Diseases, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


D. G. Joakim Larsson

A professor in Environmental Pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He contributed to identifying ethinylestradiol as drug of environmental concern in the 1990ies, and in a series of publications from 2007 and onwards, he and his co-workers identified production sites as a source for major discharges of drugs, including antibiotics, to the environment. During t last few years, he has dedicated his research focus to the role of environmental pollution in the emergence and dissemination of antibiotic resistance.

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December Issue of The Medicine Maker