WHO warns of ‘silent pandemic’ caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria

A new analysis from the World Health Organization warns of a “silent pandemic” caused by drug-resistant bacteria due to a lack of new antibiotics on the market that is killing thousands of people around the world.

According to a statement ahead of the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, to be held online April 15-18 in Copenhagen, Denmark, only 12 new antibiotics entered the market between 2017 and 2021.

In addition, he points out that only 27 drugs are currently tested against germs considered serious by the body, of which only six are considered sufficiently “innovative” to be able to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Only four of the 27 antibiotics have new mechanisms of action and most of them are not new classes of drugs, but evolutions of existing classes of antibiotics.said Valeria Gigante, head of WHO’s antimicrobial resistance division.


“Silent pandemic and the end of the world scenario”

Some 5 million deaths a year are associated with antibiotic resistance, mostly affecting poor people who have less access to high-quality drugs that might work when first-line drugs fail, the report said.

Faced with this situation of a kind of “silent pandemic”, medical experts urge to strengthen the development of new and accessible drugs. Additionally, they warn of a “end of the world scenarioin which antibiotics could eventually stop working and countless people could die from infections that were once simple and treatable.

“The rapid increase in multidrug-resistant infections worldwide is concerning. We are running out of time to bring new antibiotics to market and fight this threat. Without immediate action, we risk slipping back into a pre-antibiotic era, where common infections were deadly,” Gigante said.

poorly funded research

Antimicrobials are mostly short-term treatments, so they are not as lucrative a prospect as other treatments for pharmaceutical companies.

Moreover, they are just as likely to fail during the research and development process as any other drug, but offer a lower return on investment than, for example, cancer and cardiac drugs. The result is a difficult and underfunded research process.

In many cases, resistance to these drugs develops because people do not complete their course of antibiotics, they have been misprescribed or misused, as in some countries they are widely used without a prescription.



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