WHO highlights shortage of innovative antibiotics

The world is still failing to develop desperately-needed antibacterial treatments, despite the urgent threat of antibiotic resistance, according to a World Health Organisation report. None of the 43 antibiotics in clinical development sufficiently address drug resistance in the most dangerous bacteria. The majority offer limited clinical benefit over existing treatments, while 82% of recently-approved antibiotics are derivatives of older products with well-established drug-resistance.

WHO highlights 27 non-traditional antibacterial agents, ranging from antibodies to bacteriophages, and therapies that support the patient’s immune response and weaken the bacteria’s effect. However, while there are some promising products in development, only a fraction will make it to the market, owing to economic and scientific challenges. The low return on investment from successful products has limited the interest of major private investors and most large pharma players, and the small to medium-sized companies driving the pipeline often struggle to finance their products through to regulatory approval. 

Source: World Health Organization

Nicholas Hall Writes: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water (to quote the movie “Jaws”), the World Health Organisation reminds us that there could be more and worse to come. The worldwide pharma industry has responded magnificently to Covid, and if a fraction of that effort went into the search for new antibiotics, we could perhaps avoid the next and possibly much worse pandemic, when superbugs attack mankind. I’m not referring to hacking from within the Dark Web, but bacteria for which existing antibiotics will be unable to cope! One medical expert has described this as making Covid look like a vicarage tea party!

To quote WHO: “Opportunities emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic must be seized to bring to the forefront the needs for sustainable investments in R&D of new and effective antibiotics … We need a global sustained effort including mechanisms for pooled funding and new and additional investments to meet the magnitude of the AMR (antimicrobial resistance) threat.” So I hope that Big Pharma will recycle the windfall from Covid vaccines into new antibiotic research, otherwise we will have many more years of lockdown!”

Immunity will be the focus of our next round of regional hot topic webinars, starting with a focus on Asia-Pacific on 19 May, followed by the Americas on 23 June and Europe on 21 July. Please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com to find out more about these upcoming sessions.

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