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Lack of modern antibiotics a 'ticking time bomb'

Lack of modern antibiotics a 'ticking time bomb'


Urgent action is needed to accelerate the approved licensing process for new antibiotics to avoid an "unprecedented crisis", it is claimed.

A group of scientists and medical experts have warned the government the NHS faces a "ticking time bomb" over the lack of modern antibiotics due to increasing resistance to infections.

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) has recently launched global initiative Antibiotic Action to highlight its concerns.

Its petition has received more than 1,000 signatures from UK citizens and will be presented to Downing Street on 9 November.

The petition, which has also been signed by researchers, scientists and clinicians working in the NHS, calls upon the government to identify the following:

  • What opportunities exist to safely streamline and accelerate the licensing processes for new antibiotic agents.
  • How to address and incentivise the commercial challenges faced by industry in developing and bringing new antibiotics to the marketplace.
  • Initiatives to that will encourage greater partnership working between pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies as well as academia in the UK in order to maximise the conversion of discovered candidate molecules into licensed antibiotics available for use on the NHS.

Professor Laura Piddock, President of the BSAC, warns that there could be a "near depletion of effective antibiotics" which could have a "devastating impact on global health".

"The magnitude of the crisis we face became apparent when we noted that 16 new antibacterial agents were approved and brought to market between 1983-1987, compared with less than four agents between 2008 - 2012," she said.

"The dearth of new antibiotics reaching the marketplace today potentially threatens not only the management of 'superbugs', but also the success of many routine treatments and procedures, from life saving transplants and cancer chemotherapy, to joint replacements and therapies for cystic fibrosis sufferers.

"I fear there could be a return to a pre-antibiotic era where many people suffer or die from untreatable bacterial infections."

The Antibiotic Action campaign is also supported by TV's Dr Hilary Jones.

He has called for more action "from all" to support the discovery and development of new agents.

"As a general practitioner I am very aware of the essential role antibiotics play in ensuring the health of our nation," he said.

"Health practitioners are working hard to use antibiotics appropriately so that antibiotic resistance does not reduce the number of effective treatments available.  This is one small step in ensuring we can treat infections – mild and life-threatening – in the future."

It is hoped an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antimicrobial Discovery, Research and Development will be established in the coming weeks.


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