The World Health Organisation is warning new antibiotics urgently need to be developed to combat 12 families of bacteria posing a threat to human health. To this end, G20 health experts will convene later this week in Berlin, Germany to discuss the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the need for more effective, newer drugs.
At the same time, drug companies have little motivation to make new antibiotics, since developing new medications for chronic conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, or dementia are more profitable. The list, which highlights 12 pathogens of particular concern, is meant to advance an ongoing public health conversation on the need for new drugs to treat antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
The "Priority 1" or critical drug-resistant bacteria group hound hospitals, nursing homes, and facilities that involve critical devices such as ventilators and blood catheters.
Classified on a tri-level scale - medium, high, or critical - the agency said the bacteria are resistant to numerous now available antibiotics.
Other bacteria, including streptococcus A and B and chlamydia, were not included because they pose a limited because they have low levels of resistance to existing treatments and do not now pose a significant public health threat.
The WHO also point out that new drugs on their own will not solve the problem of antimicrobial resistance.
The top three bacteria have been known to resist multiple antibiotics, including carbapenems, which are now the strongest and most effective drugs against resistance. However, what few new antibiotics have been worked on in recent years have typically been focussed on gram-positive bacteria. The bacteria have built in qualities to find new methods to resist the treatment, passing along genetic material, allowing other bacteria to be drug resistant like them.
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At least 2 million Americans catch an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and at least 23,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The second tier includes antibiotics of high priority - for Enterococcus faecium, which is vancomycin-resistant; Staphylococcus aureus, which is methicillin-resistant; Helicobacter pylori, which is clarithromycin-resistant; Campylobacter spp, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant; Salmonellae, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant; and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone-resistant.
He said the WHO researchers hoped to send a "strong message" to the public health and pharmaceutical communities that more investment is needed for these 12 priority pathogens.
The WHO assistant director general, said at a press conference on Monday, "We are fast running out of treatment options". The critical group includes multidrug-resistant bacteria. We also need to continue efforts to prevent infection and avoid inappropriate use of existing and future antibiotics. Numerous bacteria listed are already resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Fowler cited the IDSA-supported 21st Century Cures Act, which includes a provision that would help speed new antibiotics to market, as a step in the right direction for antibiotic development. And resistant Enterobacteriaceae are an especially unsafe kind of superbug, because many of these bacteria are quickly learning to repel just about every drug we have available against them. Well, all of them pose risks and are high priority, but this is the priority ranking of the high priority. Such bacteria can cause pneumonia and severe bloodstream infections. He said the list would be an important tool to steer research.
Bacteria can become resistant to drugs when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics.