The crisis in antibiotic resistance

Science. 1992 Aug 21;257(5073):1064-73. doi: 10.1126/science.257.5073.1064.


The synthesis of large numbers of antibiotics over the past three decades has caused complacency about the threat of bacterial resistance. Bacteria have become resistant to antimicrobial agents as a result of chromosomal changes or the exchange of the exchange of genetic material via plasmids and transposons. Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and staphylococci, organisms that cause respiratory and cutaneous infections, and members of the Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas families, organisms that cause diarrhea, urinary infection, and sepsis, are now resistant to virtually all of the older antibiotics. The extensive use of antibiotics in the community and hospitals has fueled this crisis. Mechanisms such as antibiotic control programs, better hygiene, and synthesis of agents with improved antimicrobial activity need to be adopted in order to limit bacterial resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects
  • Enterococcus / drug effects
  • Haemophilus influenzae / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Staphylococcus / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents