Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WHO: The World Is Running Out Of Antibiotics

http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/rational_use/antibacterial_agents_clinical_development/en/















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While pandemics and outbreaks of novel diseases like avian flu, MERS, and Zika make the immediate headlines, in terms of medium-to-long term threats, there is little that can match the potential harm from the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria around the globe.
Despite decades of warnings, this threat is largely under appreciated by the public because its progression has been gradual, the loss of antibiotics incremental, and so far at least . . . there have always been replacement drugs available when an antibiotic has failed.
But the number of new antibiotics in the pipeline are desperately few, and the pace of newly emerging resistant bugs has increased greatly in recent years. While the numbers remain small, we are beginning to see the emergence of pan-resistant bacteria.

A few (of dozens) of unwelcome antimicrobial resistant milestones reported in the past couple of years include:

Eurosurveillance: Mcr-One, Two, Three And Counting
MMWR: Fatal Pan-Drug Resistant CRE - Nevada 2016
mBio: 1st Colistin & Carbapenem Resistant E. Coli Infection In A U.S. Patient
Eurosurveillance: Identification Of A Novel Colistin-Resistant MRC-2 Gene In E Coli - Belgium, 2016
CDC HAN: Alerting Healthcare Facilities Of 1st MCR-1 Gene Detection In US Patient

And just three weeks ago CIDRAP reported on a Hypervirulent, highly resistant Klebsiella identified in China, one which a week later was described as New Klebsiella strains 'worst-case scenario,' experts say. 
If we're in a war against resistant bacteria, the news from the front isn't good.
Today the World Health Organization released a grim assessment of the current state of antibiotic development, calling on pharmaceutical companies and researchers to `urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of extremely serious infections'.



News release 
 
A report, Antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis, launched today by WHO shows a serious lack of new antibiotics under development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Most of the drugs currently in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and are only short-term solutions. The report found very few potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to health, including drug-resistant tuberculosis which kills around 250 000 people each year.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine," says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery."

In addition to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, WHO has identified 12 classes of priority pathogens – some of them causing common infections such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections – that are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics and urgently in need of new treatments.

The report identifies 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development to treat priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens, as well as tuberculosis and the sometimes deadly diarrhoeal infection Clostridium difficile.

Among all these candidate medicines, however, only 8 are classed by WHO as innovative treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal.

There is a serious lack of treatment options for multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant M. tuberculosis and gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter and Enterobacteriaceae (such as Klebsiella and E.coli) which can cause severe and often deadly infections that pose a particular threat in hospitals and nursing homes.

There are also very few oral antibiotics in the pipeline, yet these are essential formulations for treating infections outside hospitals or in resource-limited settings.

"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," says Dr Suzanne Hill, Director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO.

To counter this threat, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) set up the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (known as GARDP). On 4 September 2017, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Wellcome Trust pledged more than €56 million for this work.

"Research for tuberculosis is seriously underfunded, with only two new antibiotics for treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis having reached the market in over 70 years," says Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme. "If we are to end tuberculosis, more than US$ 800 million per year is urgently needed to fund research for new antituberculosis medicines".

New treatments alone, however, will not be sufficient to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance. WHO works with countries and partners to improve infection prevention and control and to foster appropriate use of existing and future antibiotics. WHO is also developing guidance for the responsible use of antibiotics in the human, animal and agricultural sectors.

Note to editors

For more information, download the following reports:
The clinical pipeline analysis data can be explored in an interactive way through:

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