At a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta last week, Health Economist Ramanan Laxminarayan proposed a simpler system than what is used currently for tracking antimicrobial resistance in different countries.
[The index] uses a "basket" of resistance data for different drugs, comparable to the basket of groceries and other expenses that makes up the cost-of-living index. These numbers are weighted according to the amount of each that is used. For instance, if doctors use cephalosporin twice as often as they do penicillin to treat a certain infection, cephalospirin’s resistance percentage carries twice as much weight. This way, the index reflects how serious the resistance problem really is, says Laxminarayan. If a microbe develops resistance to a drug that is hardly ever used anyway—because better or cheaper ones exist—than the index will go up only slightly. But if resistance occurs against a drug prescribed to almost every patient, the index will skyrocket.
This would allow comparisons between different geographic regions and an easier way to track changes over time. Laxminarayan and others think the current method of tracking resistance (reporting individual microbe’s resistance to individual drugs) is too complicated to accurately describe to policy makers and the public.
ScienceNow: A Dow Jones for Drug Resistance
Image credit:: Wellcome Images: Testing bacteria for antibiotic sensitivity. …