WHO warns that the world is running out of antibiotics

World Health Organization

World Health Organization

It said that "antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency".

In a new report, World Health Organization warned of a "serious lack" of new antibiotics in development to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

"There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives for minor surgery". Some of these cause common infections such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

The world is running out of antibiotics, global health leaders have warned. It has now examined new drugs in the development pipeline.

A dried-up pipeline and insufficient investment in basic science, drug discovery and clinical development means there are fewer potential treatments for important antibiotic-resistant infections like drug-resistant tuberculosis, which kills 250,000 people each year, according to WHO. Most of the drugs now in the clinical pipeline are just the adjustment of existing classes of antibiotics and provide the short-term solutions to diseases.The report found very few potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as greatest threat to health, which includes drug-resistant tuberculosis. We've made good progress in getting this on the political agenda.

The United Nations health agency has aired its concerns about antibiotic resistance, which makes it more hard to treat infections, for some time.

AMR occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites evolve to resist the drugs that combat the infections that they cause.

Among the newly identified 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development, only eight are classed by World Health Organization as innovative treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal, it said. The rest are just modifications of drugs that already exist and may already be compromised.

And for drug-resistant diseases that should be high priority, there aren't enough oral antibiotics, which are used to treat infections outside of a medical setting or in places where resources are limited, the agency said.

There is serious concern over the spread of first multi-drug-resistant TB and then extremely drug-resistant TB worldwide. "Research for tuberculosis is seriously underfunded", said Dr Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO Global TB Programme. "If we are to end tuberculosis, more than US$ 800 million per year is urgently needed to fund research for new antituberculosis medicines". But other factors have helped to accelerate the process such as the "misuse and overuse" of antimicrobial drugs.

The WHO warned however that new treatments alone would not be sufficient and stressed the importance of responsible use of antibiotics in people and animals.

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