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World Antibiotics Awareness Week: Don’t spread the infection, spread the word

This week is World Antibiotics Awareness Week (WAAW). Everyone has a role to play - will you join us in the fight against the ‘Superbugs’?


What is antimicrobial resistance and who are the ‘Superbugs’?

Superbugs are bacteria that have changed in response to antibiotics and become resistant to them. They are harder to kill. The more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become. When bacteria develops resistance to the medicines designed to get rid of it, it is known as antimicrobial resistance or AMR. And AMR is a threat to everyone’s health.1,2

Whilst AMR can occur naturally, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics is acting as an accelerator;1 common infections are becoming harder to treat and if we don’t act now, simple procedures such as caesarean sections and hip replacements could become life-threatening.2

We’re taking a stand against antimicrobial resistance

As one of the largest providers of medicines that treat infections, we’re proud to be a key player in the fight against AMR.3

No one person or organisation can fix the growing threat and there is certainly no one answer to the problem. That’s why we’re working with government, healthcare workers and other organisations across the globe to tackle the problem by:

Raising Awareness




Here in the UK, we’re working with scientists, doctors and academics to educate the general public and healthcare workers about antibiotics and how to use them responsibly.

We recently launched the ‘Superbugs: Join the fight’ school education programme, designed alongside the PSHE Association and National Schools Partnership, to engage primary school pupils with this real-world issue. Over 1,600 schools have already signed up to receive the free resource pack and have been invited to take part in a competition that will help raise awareness to the wider community. Find out more.

We’re also sponsoring the free Science Museum exhibition, ‘Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives’ which explores the growing threat of the ‘superbugs’ and highlights the role that we all have to play in the fight. We estimate around 1 million people have already passed through the exhibition, which will run until March 2019. Find out more.

Surveillance and Stewardship




Understanding evolving resistance patterns is a key element in the quest to limit the rise of AMR2.

In 2017, Pfizer Inc. launched the Antimicrobial Testing Leadership and Surveillance (ATLAS) website, designed to provide healthcare workers, researchers and the global health community with easy access to critical resistance information and inform them about resistance trends across more than 70 countries.4

In the UK, we’re also proud to sponsor a collaboration with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the University of Dundee on the development of an online educational course for healthcare professionals on antibiotic stewardship.5

Discovery and Development




Anti-infectives underpin modern medicine as we know it, curing and even preventing many kinds of infection.6

Since the 1940’s when Pfizer first mass-produced penicillin, we’ve been actively involved in the discovery and development of medicines to treat infections as well as vaccines that prevent them.3

Prevention is better than cure.7 In the case of antibiotics, if we can prevent infections by increasing our use of vaccines and only using antibiotics when absolutely necessary, we can ensure that antibiotics are available for many years to come.2

We have over 80 anti-infective medicines and vaccines and continue to evaluate opportunities to expand our R&D pipeline to ensure we address the evolving medical needs of patients and healthcare workers.3

Policy Leadership




A strong pipeline of new antibiotics is essential to restoring the balance against increasing rates of AMR. However, investing in antibiotic research has long been unattractive for life science companies and no new antibiotics have been invented for decades.2

The journey from discovery to a clinically approved medicine is long and failure rate is high. The complexity and uncertainty in the early stages of discovery mean that huge sums have to be invested before a new antibiotic is successfully developed. As we attempt to preserve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics and other treatments, new medicines may be used infrequently, making it difficult to recover the high costs associated with development.8

At Pfizer, we’re committed to working with the UK Government, Department of Health and Social Care and other policy makers to develop a new model which ensures appropriate use of antibiotics, reduces the financial impact of infections and outbreaks and encourages the industry back in to antibiotic development.

How can you join the fight?

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most complex health challenges of our time with the potential for millions of lives to be at risk by 2050 if we do not take action now.2 But there is still hope – we all have a role to play in the fight against the ‘superbugs’ and by following these 4 simple steps, you too can help control the spread of resistance.1,9

Keep yourself clean and healthy
The simple act of washing hands can stop infections spreading.

Use antibiotics correctly
Always follow the instructions you are given by your doctor when taking antibiotics.

Keep vaccinations up to date for you and your family
Everyone knows the saying – prevention is better than cure. 

Spread the word
To win the fight we need everyone to take action.



  1. World Health Organization. Antibiotic resistance. February 2018.
  2. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: final report and recommendations. May 2016.
  3. Pfizer 2017 Annual Review. Anti-Infectives. June 2018.
  4. Pfizer 2017 Annual Review. ATLAS. June 2018.
  5. British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Acknowledgements. Last accessed: October 2018
  6. Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope. (2015). Antibiotic Resistance: why the fuss and what simple actions can everyone take? January 2015.
  7. Public Health England. Health Matters: Preventing infections and reducing AMR. November 2017.
  8. ABPI. UK pharma body welcomes action from drugs companies on Antimicrobial Resistance. September 2016.
  9. World Health Organisation. Infection prevention and control. Last accessed: October 2018

PP-PFE-GBR-1497 / Oct 2018