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WHO publishes first list of ‘priority pathogens’

Tuesday February 28th, 2017

The World Health Organisation has published a list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” for the first time, revealing 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.

Created as part of the organisation’s global effort to tackle resistance to antimicrobial medicines, the list aims to promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics.

Speaking ahead of the G20 health experts meeting in Berlin this week, Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said: “This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health needs.

“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”

The WHO list is divided into three tiers – critical, high and medium priority.

The first group includes multidrug resistant bacteria, including Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Enterobacteriaceae, which are most likely to affect hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients who need ventilators and blood catheters.

The high and medium priority categories include other increasingly drug-resistant bacteria that cause common diseases such as gonorrhoea and food poisoning caused by salmonella.

Mr Hermann Gröhe, the German Federal Minister of Health, said: “We need effective antibiotics for our health systems. We have to take joint action today for a healthier tomorrow. Therefore, we will discuss and bring the attention of the G20 to the fight against antimicrobial resistance. WHO’s first global priority pathogen list is an important new tool to secure and guide research and development related to new antibiotics.”

The list was developed in collaboration with the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tübingen, Germany, using a multi-criteria decision analysis technique vetted by a group of international experts.

Professor Evelina Tacconelli, head of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Tübingen, added: “New antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world.

“Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact on patient care.”

The report was welcomed by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Professor Evelina Tacconelli, from the society, said: “This report marks a major step forward in identifying which bacteria pose the greatest risk for patient care because of a lack of effective treatments.

"We hope that it will drive governments and research groups working in antibiotic development to set the right research priorities that will reduce the burden of antibiotic-resistant infections globally.”

[Report]

Tags: Europe | Pharmaceuticals | World Health

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