Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (10):653-654 (2017)

Alberto Giubilini
Università degli Studi di Milano (PhD)
Antimicrobial resistance kills people. According to a recent estimate, ‘7 00 000 people die of resistant infections every year’, and ‘by 2050 10 million lives a year are at risk due to drug resistant infections, as are 100 trillion USD of economic output’.1 Today, ‘bacteria are resistant to nearly all antibiotics that were earlier active against them’.2 For all these reasons, antimicrobial resistance is considered a ‘slowly emerging disaster’3 and a ‘global health security issue’.4 The prospect we are facing is that of a ‘post antibiotic era’,5 in which we risk losing the availability of effective antibiotics and, with them, of medical interventions that require effective antibiotics, such as chemotherapy, transplantation and major surgery. One of the causes of antimicrobial resistance is antimicrobial consumption. As put by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘the use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world: simply using antibiotics creates resistance’.6 According to the 2016 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance commissioned by the UK Government, ‘more consumption of antibiotics directly leads to more resistance’.1 This is because microbes that are not killed by antimicrobials are more likely to reproduce and proliferate and to pass their resistance genes on to other microbes. Thus, exactly like the consumption of many other finite resources, antibiotic and antimicrobial consumption gives rise to the collective action problem known as ‘tragedy of the commons’: consuming a certain resource, such as antimicrobials, is in an individual’s best short-term interest, but many instances of individual consumption erode the resource and therefore conflict with the collective interest in preserving the good. How to solve a tragedy of the commons? As is the case with the consumption of other finite resources, the answer is quite simple: by rationing the resource. Simon Oczkowski’s article …
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1136/medethics-2017-104572
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,827
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ethics, Science, and Antimicrobial Resistance.Bernard Rollin - 2001 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 14 (1):29-37.
Collective Action and Individual Choice.Jonny Anomaly - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (4):752-756.


Added to PP index

Total views
34 ( #309,998 of 2,432,722 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #83,760 of 2,432,722 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes