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Crisis in global antibiotics

Wednesday September 20th, 2017

There is a serious lack of new antibiotics to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, the World Health Organisation warned last night.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said: "Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardise progress in modern medicine.

"There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including tuberculosis, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery."

The WHO launched a report yesterday (19 September) called 'Antibacterial agents in clinical development - an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis'.

The authors say that most of the drugs currently in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics, and represent just a short-term answer to the problem.

Included in the report is a list of 13 classes of priority pathogens increasingly resistant to antibiotics, including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and Clostridium difficile. It also names 51 new antibiotics and biologicals under development, but only eight are classed as innovative treatments. In particular, there are very few oral antibiotics in the pipeline, though this is the most useful format, the report says.

Dr Suzanne Hill, also of the WHO, says: "Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of extremely serious infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defence."

Earlier this month, more than 56 million Euros was donated towards this work by Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and the UK.

Tags: Flu & Viruses | MRSA & Hygiene | Pharmaceuticals | World Health

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