One line review:

A brief introduction on antibiotic resistance and how buggered we are if we carry on

‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ is a short book by the Chief Medical Officer to the UK government, Dame Sally Davies. It describes what antimicrobial resistance is, why it is a problem and what we should be doing to combat such a threat.


The book is relatively short, being only 112 pages and a fair chunk (~20) are one big table about the different antibiotics classes and when resistance emerged to these classes as well as little notes about them. It was quite short, I finished it during a 2 hour train journey, whilst also starting a new book.

As a microbiologist, I didn’t really learn anything new if i’m honest, just more of a recap of the things I learnt during my undergrad days. BUT, it was still a good read, especially the final chapter on what we should be doing next to combat antimicrobial resistance (or ‘to make them work again’). It covers areas such as implementing global rules of prescribing antimicrobials, preventing over the counter sale, ways to kickstart finding new antimicrobials and even the possibility of applying sanctions to countries that don’t do their part in helping to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

All in all, great book, relatively short but very concise and straight to the point. Should be a book that everyone should read, especially as it’s greatly accessible to everyone and not just microbiologists.

Overall: 6/10