Business, Finance & Economics

Superbugs: India and the Rise of Drug-Resistant Germs

Salmonella.jpg

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells. (Photo: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)

Antibiotics have saved countless lives since the discovery of penicillin in the 1920s, but many germs are developing resistance to the drugs. It's a global problem, yet one country — India — may play an especially large role in fueling it.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Marco Werman speaks with health reporter Jason Gale, whose story on the topic appears in the June issue of Bloomberg Markets Magazine.

"The thing about India which makes it unique, I think, is that when you look at the drivers of drug resistance, India pretty much ticks every single box," Gale says. He points to India's booming generic drug industry, which has fostered the widespread overuse of antibiotics and is causing bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs.

In addition, Gale says, India's lack of toilets allows germs to spread easily from people, into the environment, and back to people. And India's role as a medical tourism hub could expose people worldwide to the resistant microbes.

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