WHO Confirms Serious Lack of New Antibiotics to Combat Resistant Pathogens

A new report issued today by the World Health Organization shows a "serious lack" of new antibiotics in development, even as resistance to existing antibiotics are on the rise.

Without it, it warns, society will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives undergoing minor surgery.

In recent years, there has been a United Kingdom drive to raise global awareness of the threat posed to modern medicine by antimicrobial resistance.

"There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including tuberculosis (TB), otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery", World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. The authors have also said that numerous new drugs that are being developed are drugs which patients have already developed drug resistance to and are mostly modifications of now existing antibiotics.

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

Too few antibiotics are in the pipeline to tackle the global crisis of drug resistance, which is responsible for the rise of nearly untreatable infections around the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns.

Ed Whiting, director of policy at the Wellcome Trust, added: 'There is no doubt of the urgency - the world is running out of effective antibiotics and drug-resistant infections already kill 700,000 people a year globally.

Of the 33 potential drugs to treat these priority pathogens, only eight are new treatments.

Roughly 700,000 people worldwide die annually as a result of drug-resistant infections including drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria.

Dr Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme added: "If we are to end TB, more than $800m per year is urgently needed to fund research for new anti-TB medicines". An example of this drug-resistant tuberculosis, a disease for which no drug has yet been developed.

As of this May, there are 51 antibiotics and 11 biologicals, or medical products made from natural sources, being developed, CNN reports. Overuse or incorrect use of antibiotics are key contributing factors, as is antibiotic use in animals that are then consumed by humans.

It said cooperation by the pharmaceutical industry will be key to bringing new options onto the market and that new treatments must be combined with infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship efforts.

The WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative have started the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership in order to address the growing problem.