+44(0)208 9952500 karen.stancombe@lionsdencommunications.com LionsDen Communications Lionsden medical John Clare

Pharma and new antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance is a threat as great as terrorism, according to Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer. Scaremongering? Many people don’t think so, including the NHS and Public Health England, who’ve produced a video about it to mark Antibiotic Resistance Day around Europe today: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/ARC/Pages/AboutARC.aspx

Antibiotics are an essential part of treatment for many serious conditions, including heart and cancer surgery.  As Sally Davies says, there is now a risk that within 20 years people undergoing routine operations may die of simple infections because we won’t  have any drugs to treat them.  The more they’re used, the less effective they become. So developing new ones without ensuring appropriate use ‘is like supplying your alcoholic patients with a finer brandy’, as Dr Dennis Maki  told the Infectious Disease Society of America. That was in 1998. Since then, the FDA has approved just 11 new ones.  So what is the pharma industry doing?

Many commentators today will say ‘The pharmaceutical industry isn’t developing any new antibiotics.’ That’s not quite true.  There are currently 38 new antibiotics in development.  Of those, about 80 per cent are being developed by small pharmaceutical companies.  In the new world of transparency-and-doing-the-right thing, maybe the big players need to put their weight behind the problem again? It can’t do their reputation any harm.

See  here for details of antibiotics in the pipeline: http://tinyurl.com/l4w762z

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