Antibiotic resistance is a growing menace – we must act before it’s too late

by John McConnell (The Lancet Infectious Diseases)

Date : May 18, 2015

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> « Profligate use of antibiotics has provided the evolutionary driver for bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs. Introduction of every new class of antibiotics has been followed by bacteria becoming resistant (something Fleming warned of for penicillin in his 1945 Nobel prize lecture). For the first 40 years or so of the antibiotics era, doctors compensated for the failing of one antibiotic by using another, newly developed, drug. However, since that golden era, the stream of new antibiotics has turned to a trickle as pharmaceutical companies realised greater returns on investment by developing drugs for lifelong diseases rather than acute illnesses such as infected cuts or pneumonia. Indeed, the last entirely new class of antibiotics to reach the market was discovered nearly 30 years ago. Ways to boost the research and development pipeline for new antibiotics are the focus of the latest report, released last week, from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), chaired by economist Jim O'Neill.
The AMR review was announced by David Cameron in July 2014, and will produce its definitive recommendations in the summer of next year. The latest paper suggests ways to revitalise the research and development pipeline to produce about 15 new licensed antibiotics every 10 years. First, O'Neill proposes a global innovation fund of $2bn over five years to boost research into new drugs and diagnostic tests, with most of the money going to universities and small biotechnology companies. The big pharmaceutical companies would be asked to make substantial contributions to the fund. »

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