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By Rob Minto

The global superbug crisis is a complicated, long-term problem. The video below explains how it starts, spreads and its impact. But there are many other—sometimes surprising—aspects to this crisis.

There is one key way in which superbugs start. Whether it is in animals or humans, the initial point is where antibiotics kill off drug-susceptible bacteria, leaving drug-resistant bacteria to multiply.

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Pharmaceutical waste in Hyderabad, India. Christian Baars

By Madlen Davies and Sam Loewenberg

Many of the world's leading drug manufacturers may be leaking antibiotics from their factories into the environment, according to a new report from a drug industry watchdog. This risks creating more superbugs.

The report surveyed household-name pharmaceutical giants like GSK, Novartis and Roche as well as generic companies which make non-branded products for the NHS and other health systems.

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Digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic image of Enterococcus faecalis. Pete Wardell / CDC

A breakthrough in antibiotic resistance was reported last week. Scientists had re-engineered the drug vancomycin—used against extremely resistant infections including MRSA—to make it stronger and stop bugs becoming immune to it. Vancomycin has been prescribed for 60 years and is a highly effective antibiotic—yet in some countries bacteria are developing resistance.

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