Published: Wed, September 20, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

'Serious lack' of antibiotics in development to address resistance

'Serious lack' of antibiotics in development to address resistance

But that will not be anywhere near enough because of the length of time it takes to get drugs approved and onto the market, and because inevitably some of the drugs will not work.

Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said that antimicrobial resistance is a world health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine.

There are, however, very few potential treatment options.

A new report issued today by the World Health Organization shows a "serious lack" of new antibiotics in development, even as resistance to existing antibiotics are on the rise. If antibiotics lose their effectiveness then key medical procedures - including gut surgery, caesarean sections, joint replacements, and chemotherapy - could become too risky to perform.

"There is a serious lack of treatment options for multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant M. tuberculosis and gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter and Enterobacteriaceae (such as Klebsiella and E.coli) which can cause severe and often deadly infections that pose a particular threat in hospitals and nursing homes", the report said.

But Dr Mario Raviglione, the head of the WHO's global TB initiative, said more than $800 million each year is needed to fund research into drug-resistant TB alone.

The report's authors have found 51 new antibiotics and biologicals now in development that may be able to treat the diseases caused by these resistant bugs.

The WHO study found that new drugs in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing medicines and are only short-term solutions.

While the report identifies 51 new antibiotics and biologicals that are now in clinical development, just eight are classed by the World Health Organization as innovative treatments that will actually add to the current arsenal of antibiotic treatments.

And for drug-resistant diseases that should be high priority, there aren't enough oral antibiotics, which are used to treat infections outside of a medical setting or in places where resources are limited, the agency said.

The authors of the report identified 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development.

But what is antimicrobial resistance (AMR)?

"There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery", he warned. On 4 September 2017, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Wellcome Trust pledged more than €56 million for this work. We've made good progress in getting this on the political agenda. It is also developing guidance for the responsible use of antibiotics in the human, animal and agricultural sectors.

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