Blog | Thursday, April 6, 2017

WHO says new antibiotics are needed

WHO published a list of bacteria that are highly resistant and pose the greatest threat to human health. The list was created “to guide and promote research and development of new antibiotics” as part of an overall strategy to address the global antimicrobial resistance problem. I suspect this strategy also includes mention for resources targeting infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship.

The creation of the list was a collaborative effort led by Prof. Evelina Tacconelli and her colleagues in the infectious diseases division at the University of Tübingen. They utilized decision-analytic techniques and many criteria including: ”how deadly the infections they cause are; whether their treatment requires long hospital stays; how frequently they are resistant to existing antibiotics when people in communities catch them; how easily they spread between animals, from animals to humans, and from person to person; whether they can be prevented (e.g. through good hygiene and vaccination); how many treatment options remain; and whether new antibiotics to treat them are already in the R&D pipeline.”

Nature has a nice discussion of this effort and places it into context with other existing initiatives. The “money” quote comes from Michael Gilmore: “The bottom line is that the economic model (for antibiotic development) doesn't work.”

Eli N. Perencevich, MD, ACP Member, is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist in Iowa City, Iowa, who studies methods to halt the spread of resistant bacteria in our hospitals (including novel ways to get everyone to wash their hands). This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.