Evidence summary on antibiotics for respiratory tract infections

  • The World Health Organization predicts a return to the pre-antibiotic era by 2030 if antibiotic resistance continues to grow at current rates.[1] We are potentially facing a future with no effective antibiotic treatments.
  • In Australia antibiotic resistance in common pathogens causing RTIs has increased over the past 20 years.[2] Streptococcus. pneumoniae resistance to macrolide antibiotics has increased from 8.7% in 1994 to 20.4% in 2007, and this trend is continuing.[3]
  • Antibiotic use not only increases antibiotic resistance at a population level but also at an individual level.[2,4]
  • Health professionals are in a prime position to address the problem of antibiotic resistance.


  1. World Health Organization. Combat antimicrobial resistance: fact sheet. World Health Organization, 2011. (accessed 15 May 2012).
  2. Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AGAR). AGAR Surveys: schedule and overview. 2011. (accessed 15 May 2012).
  3. Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AGAR). Streptococcus pneumoniae survey. 2007 Antibiotic susceptibility report. 2007. (accessed 15 May 2012).
  4. Pray L. Antibiotic R&D: resolving the paradox between unmet medical need and commercial incentive. Cambridge Healthtech Institute, (Insight Pharma Reports). Needham, MA, 2008.