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Report finds ‘startling’ lack of progress of antibiotic R&D agenda

Clift reports that the global community has failed to act

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There has been a ‘startling lack of progress’ on implementation of key policies to tackle antimicrobial resistance, a report has found.

The report looks at what has changed since the 2016 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance carried out by Jim O'Neill at the request of the UK Prime Minister. O'Neill’s review proposed a range of actions the global community could take to stop the rise of multi-drug-resistant micro-organisms.

More than three years later, a report written by Charles Clift of the Centre on Global Health Security, with a forward by O’Neill, has made the case that the global community has failed to act.

‘There has been very little progress on the review’s central and most expensive recommendations for transforming research and development incentives for antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostics,’ Clift wrote.

Those recommendations included the creation of a global system that would reward companies that bring new antibiotics to market, thereby making it economically viable to develop products that are unlikely to sell in large volumes. The system was forecast to cost $16bn over ten years.

Clift identifies isolated initiatives that share the O'Neill’s review goal of delinking sales volumes from monetary rewards. However, Clift found ‘there is little, if any, progress being made towards a substantive outcome’ on a global scheme.

The report published by Clift found the O'Neill review has also failed to trigger change in other areas, including with regard to proposed restrictions on the availability of over-the-counter antibiotics.

Clift found the move toward those restrictions has ‘foundered in the face of poor living conditions and access to healthcare in [low and middle-income countries]’. The persistence of unhygienic conditions in such countries is leading to infections and, by extension, a continued high demand for antibiotics.

The report published this week argues that investments in water, sanitation and housing are needed to cut demand for antibiotics. Clift wants those considerations to inform the actions of governments and funding agencies such as the World Bank.

While sounding the alarm about the lack of advances in key areas, Clift also highlights some areas in which progress has been made since the publication of the O’Neill review.

Antimicrobial resistance has become a higher-profile subject and there have been ‘significant advances’ in efforts to cut the use of antibiotics in agriculture. However, those advances have mainly happened in high-income countries.

Clift also highlights surveillance of antibiotic use and resistance as an area where progress has been made, while also noting that the current systems are yet to generate data that is accurate enough to influence policy and action.

Article by
Nick Taylor

11th October 2019

From: Research

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