Doctors were warned yesterday to abandon a drug used to treat gonorrhoea because it is no longer effective.

The announcement by the Health Protection Agency highlights the advance of organisms resistant to antibiotics which pose one of the gravest threats to global health.

The agency warned that the disease – with 17,000 cases in 2009 – should in future be treated with ceftriaxone injections, and azithromycin pills, in place of cefixime.