Bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR)—which occurs when changes in bacteria cause the drugs used to treat infections to become less effective—has emerged as one of the leading public health threats of the 21st century. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, commissioned by the UK Government, argued that AMR could kill 10 million people per year by 2050.
Declining private investment and lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics are undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Two new reports reveal a weak pipeline for antibiotic agents. The 60 products in development (50 antibiotics and 10 biologics) bring little benefit over existing treatments and very few target the most critical resistant bacteria (Gram-negative bacteria).
The WHO has recognised a number of antibiotic-resistant pathogens as posing the greatest threat to human health. It further concluded that mortality and morbidity from resistant infections is on the rise globally, the clinical anti-bacterial pipeline remains insufficient, and the pipeline outlook remains bleak (WHO 2019).
During the Super Bowl, a representative of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly posted the on the company’s corporate blog that the average cost of bringing a new drug to market is $1.3 billion, a price that would buy 371 Super Bowl ads, 16 million official NFL footballs, two pro football stadiums, pay of almost all NFL football players, and every seat in every NFL stadium for six weeks in a row. This is, of course, ludicrous. The average drug developed by a major pharmaceutical company costs between $4-$11 billion.
Metabolic disrupters, phages, and other approaches are going to be needed to treat the broadest possible range of patients infected by bacterial pathogens resistant to multiple drugs. In 1924 President Coolidge's youngest son developed a blister on a toe playing tennis. The blister became infected with staph, and he died a week later at just 16 years old. Two decades later, penicillin could have saved him, but this drug is now useless against staph because of drug resistance, which has now become a broader crisis in medicine.
The advent of multidrug resistance among pathogenic bacteria is imperiling the worth of antibiotics, which have previously transformed medical sciences. The crisis of antimicrobial resistance has been ascribed to the misuse of these agents and due to unavailability of newer drugs attributable to exigent regulatory requirements and reduced financial inducements.
While medical research has helped us overcome many health threats, we now face a new type of crisis: Many dangerous bacteria are becoming resistant to the drugs meant to fight them. Healthcare professionals antibiotics to treat many forms of bacterial infection — from those that are mild to those that are potentially life threatening. For the most part, antibiotics have proved to be a crucial ally in the fight for health, but over the past few years, these drugs have begun to lose their footing in their confrontation with bacteria.
The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), was commissioned in July 2014 by the UK Prime Minister, who asked economist Jim O’Neill to analyse the global problem of rising drug resistance and propose concrete actions to tackle it internationally. The Review on AMR was jointly supported by the UK Government and Wellcome Trust, although operated with full independence from both. The final report and recommendations were published in the summer of 2016.
Antibiotics are the most important drug class in human history. Without them, minor infections could turn deadly. Heart surgery, cancer treatment, and virtually everything else that happens in a hospital would be far more dangerous than it is today. But if we keep taking them for granted, and fail to provide innovative approaches to funding the development of new antibiotics, drug-resistant microbes will get the upper hand.
Many of the medical breakthroughs of the last century could be lost through the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Previously curable infectious diseases may become untreatable and spread throughout the world. This has already started to happen. The report "Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014" showed that antimicrobial resistance is everywhere and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.