WHO warns: New effective antibiotics are in short supply
The increasing resistance to antibiotics often presents physicians with considerable problems in the treatment of infectious diseases that were once curable. It is not uncommon for the pathogens to be resistant to all common antibiotics and therefore do not respond to the usual treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the new development of antibiotics should therefore be given a significantly higher priority.
The World Health Organization believes that the international community's investments in the development of new antibiotics have so far not been sufficient. "Pharmaceutical companies and researchers urgently need to focus on new antibiotics for certain types of extremely severe infections that can kill patients in days because we have no treatment options," emphasizes Dr. Suzanne Hill, director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO, in a recent press release.
More research and development needed
The WHO report “Antibacterial agents in clinical development - an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis” shows that there is a serious shortcoming in the development of new antibiotics to combat the growing threat from (multi-) resistant pathogens. "There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development in antibiotic-resistant infections, including tuberculosis," said WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Without the development of new antibiotics, mankind is at risk of falling back to a time when infectious diseases were feared and people lost their lives even with minor surgical interventions, the WHO expert warns.
Hardly promising drugs in development
According to the WHO, most of the drugs currently in clinical development are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and offer only a short-term solution to the problem. The current study had made it clear that there are very few potential treatment options for antibiotic-resistant infections, which the WHO believes are the greatest threats. This includes multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, which according to the WHO claims around 250,000 deaths annually.
Global health emergency
Antibiotic resistance is a “global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” emphasizes the Director General of WHO. The current report identified 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development for the treatment of priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens, tuberculosis and the sometimes fatal diarrhea infection Clostridium difficile. Of all these drug candidates, only eight have really innovative potential, according to the WHO statement.
Deficits in the development of antibiotics
Overall, WHO has examined the potential of antibiotics under development in twelve classes of priority pathogens, including widespread pathogens that can cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections and are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics. According to the experts, there are considerable deficits in the treatment options for resistant tuberculosis and gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter and Enterobacteriaceae (such as Klebsiella and E. Coli), which need to be remedied by the new development of appropriate antibiotics. Because the infections mentioned often take a severe or even fatal course and pose a particular threat in hospitals and nursing homes.
Global Antibiotic Development Initiative
The WHO continues to complain that very few oral antibiotics are in the clinical development pipeline. These are urgently needed for the treatment of infections outside of hospitals. In order to address the problem of the lack of antibiotics as a whole, the WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) have set up the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), for the funding of which Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Switzerland , the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland committed more than 56 million euros at the beginning of September this year.
The research deficits in tuberculosis are particularly clear
So far, for example, research on tuberculosis "with just two new antibiotics for the treatment of resistant tuberculosis, which have reached market maturity in over 70 years," has been significantly underfunded, according to Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Program. If the tuberculosis threat is to end, "more than $ 800 million a year is urgently needed to fund research into new antibiotic drugs."
The WHO warns, however, that the development of new antibiotics alone cannot eliminate the risk posed by multi-resistant pathogens. In addition to better infection prevention and control, the main priority is to “promote the appropriate use of existing and future antibiotics.” For this reason, the WHO is also developing guidelines for the responsible use of antibiotics in humans, animals and agriculture. (fp)