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‘Weak antibiotic pipeline’ poses threat to AMR fight

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that declining private investment and lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics are undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections.

Based on two new reports, the organisation has announced that research and development for antibiotics is primarily driven by small- or medium-sized enterprises with large pharmaceutical companies continuing to exit the field.

Further, it says that 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).

Despite pre-clinical candidates being more innovative, the health organisation says it will take years before they reach patients and even then new treatments alone will not be sufficient to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

“Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

“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.”

Last year the UK Government took a pledge to fight the “deadly” problem, committing a total of £32 million to accelerate the UK’s work in the global fight against AMR. The promise came shortly after a UN report revealed that if left unchecked, the problem could cause as many as 10 million deaths per year by 2050.