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  • Eight in ten say a cheap and simple home test would affect their decision to seek out antibiotics

  • People are increasingly aware of the danger of AMR - but a third still wrongly believe that antibiotics can be used to treat viral infections

London, 12 November 2016 - Around three-quarters (74%) of people believe that a positive test for bacterial infection should be compulsory before being able to access antibiotics, according to new research published by the Longitude Prize - a global prize fund set up to help tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In the research, eight in ten Britons (81%) also say that having access to a cheap and simple home test for bacterial infections would affect their decision of whether to seek out antibiotics.

The development of a diagnostic test to identify whether antibiotics are needed is crucial in addressing the global public health threat from bacteria that can no longer be treated with antibiotics. The £10 million Longitude Prize is a global challenge which aims to tackle the problem by supporting the development of a new, affordable and rapid test; the Prize Challenge is open to anyone worldwide until 2019 at www.longitudeprize.org.

The latest UK survey(1) by the Longitude Prize measures public perceptions of the threat from drug-resistant bacteria, as World Antibiotic Awareness Week begins [14-20 November].  The research points to increasing awareness amongst Britons of steps that need to be taken to preserve antibiotics. The number of people saying that they had pushed their doctor to prescribe antibiotics, or had tried to access them via another source, has decreased since 2015.

The survey found, however, that there are still widespread misconceptions around antibiotics. Less than a quarter (23%) understood that increased bacterial drug resistance could affect routine operations like caesarean sections and hip replacements, whilst a third (33%) wrongly believe that antibiotics can also be used to treat viral infections.

Other key findings from the Longitude Prize survey include:

  • 70% of people said they were concerned about the effects of antibiotics becoming ineffective

  • Around a fifth (21%) of people said that antibiotics becoming ineffective is the greatest threat facing the UK

Misuse of antibiotics is one of the leading causes of global drug resistance which, according to the recent government-backed AMR Review led by Lord Jim O’Neill, could cost up to 10 million lives worldwide each year by 2050. GPs have come under increasing pressure to curb overprescription of antibiotics, with the UK Government targeting a 50% reduction in prescriptions by 2020 (2), whilst patients have also been advised not to request the class of drugs if they are not needed.

Daniel Berman, Longitude Prize lead at Nesta, the innovation foundation, said: “The unnecessary over-prescription of antibiotics is one of the major factors in the growth of resistant strains of disease. If we do not improve the way we use antibiotics and resistance continues to rise, simple infections could become life-threatening, as was the case before the advent of penicillin in 1928.”

For more information on the Longitude Prize visit longitudeprize.org.

ENDS

Notes to Editor

  1. Populus interviewed a sample of 2,348 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 26-28 October 2016.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk

  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/g7-2016-in-japan-pm-press-statement

For further information on the Longitude Prize contact Matthew Hull in the Nesta press office on (+44) 020 7438 2514 or 2543 / [email protected]

Spokespeople available on request

About Longitude Prize: The Longitude Prize has been developed by Nesta, the innovation foundation, and has a £10 million prize fund to develop a rapid diagnostic to help tackle antimicrobial resistance. It was announced by the Prime Minister at G8 in 2013 and is being supported by Innovate UK as funding partner. The Prize commemorates the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act (1714) when the British government threw down the gauntlet to solve one of the great scientific challenges of that century: how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude. www.longitudeprize.org / @longitude_prize

About Nesta: Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation. We help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. We are an independent charity and our work is enabled by an endowment from the National Lottery. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833

www.nesta.org.uk / @nesta_uk