According to experts at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), overuse of antibiotics is making bacteria and viruses far stronger and our most powerful drugs more and more useless. Continued overuse and abuse of prescription antibiotics has led to the creation of superbugs that are now responsible for approximately 25,000 deaths in Europe and 19,000 deaths in the United States annually. Each year in Europe alone these superbugs result in some 400,000 infections resulting in 2.5 million hospital days. Economically this also translates into 900 million Euros in extra hospital costs and 600 million Euros in lost productivity each year. A 2002 survey revealed that 60 percent of patients did not know that antibiotics do not work against viruses like the flu and colds. Unfortunately, patients often demand antibiotics for their flu's and colds as well as fail to take them as prescribed which has helped to create and strengthen these superbugs. Moreover, many physicians cave under the pressure of demanding patients and prescribe antibiotics despite knowing they will be useless in treating the person's flu / cold and that it will continue to contribute to the further evolution of superbugs.
Source: Reuters. November 10, 2009.