‘Diseases may soon become untreatable due to lack of new antibiotics’
• WHO warns declining private investment, other threaten global efforts to contain drug-resistant infections
• Sets up GARDP to deliver five new treatments by 2025
There are fresh concerns that infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, diarrhoea, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), measles, among others, may soon become untreatable.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday warned that declining private investment and lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics are undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections. Two new reports published by the WHO revealed a weak pipeline for antibiotic agents and the 60 products in development (50 antibiotics and 10 biologics) bring little benefit over existing treatments and very few target the most critical resistant bacteria (Gram-negative bacteria).
According to the WHO, while pre-clinical candidates (those in early-stage testing) are more innovative, it will take years before they reach patients.Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent.
“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.”
According to the WHO, gram-negative bacteria, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli, can cause severe and often deadly infections that pose a particular threat for people with weak or not yet fully developed immune systems, including newborns, ageing populations, people undergoing surgery and cancer treatment.
WHO Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance, Hanan Balkhy, said: “It is important to focus on public and private investment on the development of treatments that are effective against the highly resistant bacteria because we are running out of options. “And we need to ensure that once we have these new treatments, they will be available to all who need them,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the area of research and development, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) have established the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), a non-profit research and development organisation, to accelerate the development of new and improved antibiotics to tackle drug-resistant infections. GARDP’s strategy is to deliver five new treatments by 2025.
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