NYDN: Lack of antibiotics risks drug-resistant infections


Fighting infections is a steeper problem than usual.

That’s the upshot of the World Health Organization, which warns that diminishing financial investments and less innovation in the development of new antibiotics are thwarting ways to battle drug-resistant infections.

Two new reports reveal that there’s a brittle conduit for antibiotic agents. Sixty drug products in development aren’t much improvement over existing treatments and just a handful target the most critical resistant bacteria.

The WHO also cautions that although some preclinical candidates show promise, it could take years before they can be administered.

“Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent,” warned WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Numerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative, new medicines.”

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Thirty-two antibiotics target WHO priority pathogens but the majority has only limited benefits when compared to resisting antibiotics; two are active against the multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, which require urgent solutions, according to the WHO.

The report also denotes an alarming gap in activity against the highly resistant NDM-1 bacteria. Currently, just three antibiotics can potentially squash it.

“It’s important to focus public and private investment on the development of treatments that are effective against the highly resistant bacteria because we are running out of options,” urged WHO Assistant-Director for Antimicrobial Resistance Hanan Balkhy. “And we need to ensure that once we have these new treatments, they will be available to all who need them.”

But newer medicines will not be enough to fight the danger of antimicrobial resistance. The WHO is collaborating with other entities to improve infection prevention and foster appropriate use of existing and future antibiotics.