If things keep accelerating as is, scientists predict that a strain of bacteria – which has already migrated from India to England – will have reached most of the world and render all antibiotics useless within ten years. Which means that anyone who undergoes invasive surgery or contracts a simple bacterial infection…will die?
It's recommended not to take antibiotics if you don't really need them; people develop resistance over time, so if you don't absolutely need that Z-Pac for a pretty uncomfortable sinus infection, then you should hold out (for when you get pneumonia and really need it). But a bacteria called NDM 1 quells the fear of over-prescribing with the fear that you will die a grisly, inevitable death by bacteria:
"In many ways, this is it," Walsh tells me. "This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing enterobacteriaceae. We have a bleak window of maybe 10 years, where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with."
And this is the optimistic view – based on the assumption that drug companies can and will get moving on discovering new antibiotics to throw at the bacterial enemy. Since the 1990s, when pharma found itself twisting and turning down blind alleys, it has not shown a great deal of enthusiasm for difficult antibiotic research. And besides, because, unlike with heart medicines, people take the drugs for a week rather than life, and because resistance means the drugs become useless after a while, there is just not much money in it.
You can read the science by people who know what they're talking about here.