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Antibiotics are miraculous drugs that help us fight off bacterial infections. But sometimes bacteria evolve resistance against antibiotic treatment. Unnecessary use of antibiotics helps this antibiotic resistance spread faster. So it is important to study how much antibiotics people consume worldwide.

We analyzed antibiotic-use data from 76 countries between 2005 and 2015. We found that consumption of these medications stayed constant in most high-income countries, but has increased rapidly in middle and low-income countries. (But per capita consumption there is still lower.)

Our analysis suggests that the main reason for this was the growth in income, which made the medications more accessible. But this also caused an increase in unnecessary use. Economists predict that income will continue to grow in the next 15 years. So we need new strategies to reduce unnecessary antibiotic consumption and resistance.

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