The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning about the lack of new drugs to fight against deadly superbugs. Superbugs are strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics, making them extremely difficult to treat. The WHO has stated that this lack of new drugs is a major public health concern and could lead to a global health crisis.
The WHO has called on governments and pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development of new antibiotics and has also recommended that antibiotics be used more judiciously to prevent the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.
Development of antibiotics, less lucrative
Currently, there are only a handful of new antibiotics in the pipeline, and it can take years for a new drug to be approved for use. Just 27 new antibiotics for the most threatening infections are in the clinical trial stage of drug development, according to preliminary data from a report released by the WHO presented in march. Furthermore, the organization considers only six of them innovative enough to overcome antibiotic resistance, and just two capable of targeting the most resistant bacteria. In addition, the development of new antibiotics is not as financially lucrative as other types of drugs, which can make it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development.
There’s no telling whether this handful of new drugs in clinical trials will work, either. From 2017 to 2021, just one new antibiotic, cefiderocol, was approved that could treat the superbugs on WHO’s most critical list, including strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacteriaceae. These pathogens can cause a range of potentially severe infections in the lungs, urinary tract, ears, blood, open wounds, or even the brain and the spinal cord.
A major public health concern
To address this issue, the WHO has called for increased funding for research and development of new antibiotics, as well as new incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in this area and has also called for a more coordinated global effort to tackle the issue of antibiotic resistance.
In addition to the lack of new drugs, the WHO has also highlighted the need for better surveillance of drug-resistant infections. This will help to identify new strains of bacteria and monitor the spread of drug resistance.
In conclusion, the development of new antibiotics is crucial to preventing a global health crisis caused by drug-resistant infections. To achieve this, increased funding for research and development, as well as new incentives for pharmaceutical companies, are needed. The public also has a role to play in preventing the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria by using antibiotics judiciously and following good hygiene practices.