A novel way to track antibiotic resistance applied to two common infections underscores need to develop drugs against emerging pathogens
The Drug Resistance Index (DRI) is a composite measure that combines the ability of antibiotics to treat infections with the extent of their use in clinical practice. Described by Science Magazine as a Dow Jones for Drug Resistance, the DRI provides an aggregate trend measure of the effectiveness of available drugs, akin to the way composite economic indices are used to track movement sin consumer prices and stock market values.
The DRI can be calculated at the country, region, state, or even hospital level. Country-level DRI estimates were recently published in BMJ Global Health for a subset of countries for a single year to demonstrate the power of the DRI to communicate problems with resistance. Here we present that data, plus additional countries and years for which we have gathered enough data to calculate a composite DRI. The results underscore the urgent challenges facing the globe as DRI values are high (meaning poorer efficacy of antibiotics) in many countries, particularly many low- and middle-income countries. In the highly connected world in which we live, the disparity in efficacy is a threat to global public health as resistant pathogens can rapidly spread between countries. The DRI can also be applied to national and regional data. An example for US data is available here.