We can’t rely on development of new drugs alone to combat antimicrobial resistance
By the bioMérieux Editors | Reading time: 2 min 30s
Featured Expert: Chris Groke, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP, Medical Science Liaison at bioMérieux
PUBLICATION DATE : OCTOBER 24 , 2022
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) presents a global health crisis, as every day we encounter more infections that cannot be cured with existing antimicrobials. 2019 data shows that about 1.27 million deaths every year worldwide are directly attributable AMR, with an additional estimated 4.95 million deaths associated in some way to AMR.
At the same time, the majority of major drug companies have been scaling back or cutting antibiotic research due to development challenges. New antimicrobials may help improve patient treatment options and outcomes, especially against resistant infections, but the fight against AMR cannot rely on drug development alone.
Many pharmaceutical companies have been leaving the antibiotic business as a result of research obstacles and challenging business incentives that can prove too difficult to maintain for many companies. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since the 1980s. New antimicrobials can take 10 to 15 years and over $1 billion USD to bring to the market. If and when new antimicrobial drugs are discovered, they will need to be used wisely as the last line of treatment against highly resistant infections. According to the WHO, the clinical pipeline and the recently approved antibacterial agents are insufficient to tackle the increasing spread of AMR.
Microbes have continued to develop new types of resistance against even our most powerful drugs, since the discovery of penicillin over 90 years ago. According to Challenges for the Development of New Antimicrobials— Rethinking the Approaches, “Bacteria predate humans by billions of years and have evolved a complex series of coping mechanisms that enable them to survive under harsh conditions and in the presence of numerous toxic metabolites.”
AMR is an inevitable biological response to antibiotic use, but a holistic antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) strategy can lengthen the use of existing drugs by ensuring their responsible use. Healthcare professionals, academics, policy makers and other stakeholders will need to employ multiple strategies to fight back against rising levels of AMR. Diagnostics and advanced data analytics can help preserve existing treatments for patients today and in the future.
How can we help preserve the efficacy of our antimicrobials?
Identification and surveillance can help maintain the effectiveness of our antimicrobials. As our diagnostic tools become more advanced, we can more accurately identify the cause of infections. Diagnostic tools can improve the speed and accuracy of a patient’s diagnosis, improving appropriate antibiotic selection and reducing the risk of side effects such as Clostridium difficile infections.
Diagnostic tools can also detect when resistance spreads and support public health tracking to identify threats and infection trends. By combining efficient diagnostics with data from resistance surveillance, we can more accurately treat infections with the correct antimicrobials, from the beginning.
Health professionals can be stewards and do their part to help preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials by supporting the “five rights” of medication administration: right drug, right patient, right dose, right route, and right time. Staying informed on current outbreaks through the use advanced analytics is another key component to a successful stewardship strategy.
While antibiotic development has slowed, AMR has not. We must work to preserve the efficacy of our antimicrobials through diagnostics and stewardship.
“This is an ongoing and actionable process,” says Groke. “Through diagnostic advancements coupled with data analytics, we can avoid potentially harmful and wasteful treatment.”
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux..
- AMR AMS
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