Resistance to front-line antibiotics for helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection has more than doubled in 20 years, new research presented at the 2019 United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week in Barcelona has shown.
The study, which analysed 1232 patients from 18 countries across Europe, investigated resistance to antibiotics regularly taken for H.pylori, a significant cause of many gastric diseases.
Resistance to clarithromycin, one of the most established antimicrobials used to eradicate H. pylori, increased from 9.9% in 1998 to 21.6% last year, with increases in resistance also seen for levofloxacin and metronidazole, the researchers said.
The survey found that rates of primary clarithromycin resistance in H. pylori were highest in Southern Italy (39.9%), Croatia (34.6%), and Greece (30%), aligning with previous reports that predict Italy and Greece will have the highest number of deaths due to antimicrobial resistance among EU members by 2050. The high levels of resistance in these countries has been attributed to overconsumption of antibiotics for conditions including cold and flu, and a lack of institutional support for antibiotic resistance containment strategies.
“The findings of this study are certainly concerning, as H.pylori is the main cause of peptic disease and gastric cancer,” commented Mário Dinis-Ribeiro, President of the European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.