Davos group cautions against hubris on superbugs

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"Until recently, as older antibiotics have become less useful due to the spread of resistant bacteria, new antibiotics have come along to take their place. But the drug development pipeline for new antibiotics has been drying out," authors wrote.

"Hubris on health not only means taking for granted that the technologies we have will continue to work, but also assuming that bigger and better scientific breakthroughs are just around the corner.

"There is no guarantee that putative alternatives to antibiotics will be developed before existing antibiotics become ineffective."

The WEF cited an antibiotic-resistant infection that killed six patients at the National Institutes of Health in 2011 to illustrate that the hazards of bacterial spread will reach even "the world's most advanced medical centers."

It blamed a combination of factors related to antibiotics — overprescription as a result of perverse incentives, overuse in world agriculture, over-the-counter availability — for the problem.

Read more from the report here.