Antibiotics add, on average, twenty years to our lives. For over seventy years, since the manufacture of penicillin in 1943, we have survived extraordinary operations and life-threatening infections. We are so familiar with these wonder drugs that we take them for granted. The truth is that we have been abusing them: as patients, as doctors, as travellers, in our food. No new class of antibacterial has been discovered for twenty six years and the bugs are fighting back. If we do not take responsibility now, in a few decades we may start dying from the most commonplace of operations and ailments that can today be treated easily.
Professor Dame Sally C. Davies was the Chief Medical Officer for England and the first woman to hold the post. She holds a number of international advisory positions and is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Introduced by Magdalena Skipper, Editor in Chief of Nature.