Health risks over the resistance to antibiotics could take us back to the early nineteenth century, the Government's Chief Medical Officer has warned.
She added that infections, which we today see as routine and treatable, could once again become a serious threat.
Speaking to Daybreak, Dame Sally Davies said: "Now is the time to do something about it."
She added that the situation has been getting worse over the last ten years, and that companies are no longer producing, new forms of antibiotics.
Daybreak's Health Editor Dr Hilary said warnings over the UK's antibiotic resistance are a "huge concern."
He said there is a serious "amount of pressure on GPs to prescribe antibiotics for the most straight forward viral infections… pressure from patients."
Dr Hilary added, "GPs need to be tougher", in explaining why people do not need antibiotics to cure a common cold, or sore throat.
Today Dame Sally Davies, the Government's Chief Medical Officer has highlighted her concerns over the "ticking time-bomb" of antibiotic resistance.
Dame Sally Davies, the Government's Chief Medical Officer has described the "catastrophic threat" of the country's antibiotic resistance.
Speaking to Daybreak, members of the public said they felt antibiotics were given out too freely.
One man said: "I think we should hold onto them for the most serious cases."
Dame Sally Davies, the Government's Chief Medical Officer, has warned that routine operations could become deadly if the Government does not encourage more innovation in the development of antibiotics.
Professor Nigel Brown, president of the Society for General Microbiology, said:
Professor Dame Sally Davies rightly flags the issue of antimicrobial resistance to be of national and international concern. Urgent action is required by microbiologists and other scientists to identify and produce new antibiotics, and to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance and its transmission.
Professor Christopher Thomas, professor of molecular genetics at the University of Birmingham, added:
While better surveillance, hygiene and restricted use of antibiotics can slow the spread of resistance we also need new ways to kill resistant bacteria or reduce their carriage of resistance genes.
Novel approaches that might have appeared unrealistic a few years ago need to be explored if they hold a chance of helping us tackle this issue.
Widespread resistance to antibiotics has been described as a "apocalyptic scenario" in a report from the Government's Chief Medical Officer. Dame Sally Davies has called for:
- The development of new drugs
- Better care of the current stock of antibiotics
- Better hygiene measures to prevent infections
- The prescription of fewer antibiotics
- More action to tackle the next generation of healthcare associated infections, including new strains of existing viruses
A report from the Government's Chief Medical Officer has highlighted a "discovery void" in the development of antibiotics since 1987.
It said that pharmaceutical companies need to be incentivised to develop new antibiotics.
We have also been waiting for the next new antibiotic to come along and treat those resistant cases but the pipeline is drying up.
There are no new classes of antibiotics in the pipelines across the world and there are very few in development.
That's because we have not, as a global society, incentivised producing antibiotics. We have market failure and we really need to do something about this.
Dame Sally Davies has said the threat of antibiotic resistance is "as important as climate change for the world."
In a recent report she referred to the situation as a "catastrophic threat", and called for better protection of our current stock of antibiotics.
Dame Sally said we needed better incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs and asked ministers to ensure the issue is placed on the register.
The threat posed by antibiotic resistance should be ranked alongside terrorism on a list of threats to the nation, the Government's Chief Medical Officer said.
The problem is a "ticking time-bomb" and should be put on the Government's National Risk Register - which also includes "catastrophic terrorist attacks" and other civil emergencies, Professor Dame Sally Davies said.
Routine operations such as hip replacements could become deadly in just 20 years time if we lose the ability to fight infection, she said.
Dr Paul Cosford, acting Chief Executive of Health Protection Agency, has told Daybreak that the UK must develop new antibiotics.
He said: "When a bug becomes resistent to an antibiotic, we need to use new antibiotics and there aren't that many antibiotics in the pipeline."
Daybreak's Health Editor, Dr Hilary Jones, has told viewers that the World Health Organisation have said for some years that antibiotics resistance is "amongst the top three threats to man kind in the near future."