It is estimated that if left unchecked, drug-resistant infections will kill 10m people a year by 2050 and make even routine surgical procedures much more risky. Tony McDonough reports
Pharmaceutical firms and research facilities in Merseyside and across the North West have welcomed new report on the growing global crisis of antibiotic resistance.
The report, from the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, is calling on the Government to make finding new antibiotics a “top five policy priority” with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) currently claiming 700,000 lives a year.
Wavertree Labour MP Luciana Berger is on the committee and among those voicing their support for the call are the AMR Centre at Alderley Park in Cheshire and the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as well as a host of other firms.
Death toll rises
It is estimated that if left unchecked, drug-resistant infections will kill 10m people a year by 2050 and make even routine surgical procedures much more risky. AMR occurs because bacteria naturally develop the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them.
There has not been a new class of antibiotics created for more than 30 years and the failure of drug development to keep pace, along with overuse of existing antibiotics in human and animal health, has given rise to superbugs that are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.
The report makes a series of recommendations around investment in new drug development, prescribing habits and better use of digital health tools.
Given the UK’s pending exit from the European Union, it also wants any future trade deals to require that meat and dairy produce imported into the UK meet at least the same standards relating to antibiotic use which apply to products produced in the EU.
Dr Peter Jackson, executive director of The AMR Centre, said: “The Government’s updated AMR strategy is due to be published early in 2019, and this is a key opportunity to renew the impetus for tackling this extremely serious threat.
“The Government’s five-year AMR strategy (2013-2018) called for a new supply of safe and effective antimicrobial drugs, but the UK’s current translational capability is under invested, and not yet adequately powered to provide a sustainable pipeline of life-saving medicines to treat AMR.
“Our submission called for an urgent and coordinated plan of action across pharma companies, SMEs, Government, investors, philanthropy and academia to significantly increase investment in the translation of new AMR programs, in particular to target the World Health Organisation’s critical priority superbugs.”