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Antibiotic Resistance (Drug Resistance, Antimicrobial Resistance)

Drug resistance facts*

*Drug resistance facts Medically Edited by: Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

  • Drug resistance means any drug classified as an antimicrobial that has been compromised or has reduced or no activity when used to treat certain microbes (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites).
  • Antibiotics are medicines designed to kill or stop or slow growth of bacteria (and some fungi) while an antibacterial substance is designed to kill or slow bacterial growth.
  • MRSA and VRE are terms that describe specific types of antibacterial resistance; MRSA describes Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria while VRE describes Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococi.
  • Drug resistance occurs when microbes survive and grow in the presence of a drug that normally kills or inhibits the microbe's growth.
  • The history of drug resistance began with the development of antimicrobial drugs, and the subsequent ability of microbes to adapt and develop ways to survive in the presence of antimicrobials.
  • There are many causes of antimicrobial drug resistance including selective pressure, mutation, gene transfer, societal pressures, inappropriate drug use, inadequate diagnostics, hospital use and agricultural use of drugs.
  • Diagnosis of antimicrobial drug resistance is performed by lab tests that challenge the isolated microbes to grow and survive in the presence of the drug.
  • Treatment of antimicrobial drug resistance depends on the type of infection and what the patient and their doctor decide.
  • Prevention of antimicrobial drug resistance is aided by preventing the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials; infections can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle, hand washing, and other good hygiene methods
  • Antimicrobial resistance is a growing health issue because more resistant microbes are being detected and societal pressures often result in overuse.
  • Current problems with antimicrobial resistance are predominantly being detected in the following organisms and diseases: MRSA, VRE, E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and in gonorrhea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza, HIV, malaria and others


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