Therapeutic control of beta-lactamase-producing bacteria has been a major clinical problem in the past 40 years. Gram-negative bacteria are most often resistant to antibiotics as a result of the acquisition of resistant genes or gene mutation. Studies have shown that newly developed antibiotics will shortly fail to be active against the bacteria because of the emergence of resistance. Some resistant bacteria have been found to exist even before the antibiotic was developed. Selective pressure by the antibiotic is, therefore, one of the major factors to explain the increase of resistance. Recently, numerous resistant mechanisms that differ in their substrate profiles have been described at increasing frequencies. The inappropriate use of new antibiotics with extended spectrum further complicated the problem. Because resistance is a largely unavoidable consequence of widespread use of antibiotics, it is crucial that the use of drugs is selective by exercising prudent judgment and not excessive. The actual prevalence of resistance should be continuously monitored each year. Caution should be paid to the direct extrapolation of study results from other geographic areas, because the local prevalence of resistance is unlikely to be identical to those reported elsewhere. The impact of resistance to an antibiotic and its specific mechanisms, including transmissibility, should also be carefully studied. Such information may help in designing strategies for maximizing the therapeutic usefulness of drugs and minimizing the emergence of resistance.
J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2002;35:1-11.