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News Article

Limited Innovation on Antimicrobial Resistance

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 05/18/2021 - 10:17

Antimicrobial resistance could claim 10 million lives a year by 2050, a higher death toll than cancer, explains the World Bank. However, there are few new innovations that can address the growing prevalence of drug-resistance microbes.

The development of antibiotics transformed medicine, changed health provision and life expectancy. But an excess use of antibiotics can lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance either by a modification of the ecology of the body’s bacterial flora or by evolutionary changes in microorganisms that confer them resistance to antimicrobial drugs. These latter changes can also occur naturally.

In Mexico, antimicrobial resistance is a public health concern as it represents a barrier to combat common infections. This is even more concerning as globalization favors the rapid spread of multi and pan-resistant bacteria, which generates bacterial infections that cannot be treated with existing antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistance can lead to increased risks during surgical procedures, such as c-sections or prosthetic bone implants, as well as in treatments that suppress the immune system, such as chemotherapy. This increases costs for health systems and patients, as they have to pay for more treatments for an effective outcome.

In 2017, World Bank estimated that unless action is taken, global antimicrobial resistance could claim 10 million lives a year by 2050. According to AMIIF, in order not to lose the progress made in the treatment of drug-resistant infections, the biopharmaceutical research industry is working to develop new and effective treatments.

However, WHO states that the clinical pipeline of new antimicrobials is dry. In 2019, WHO identified 32 antibiotics in clinical development that address its list of priority pathogens, of which only six were classified as innovative. Moreover, the organization states that access gaps are still a major issue to address regarding quality antibiotics.

Companies like bioMerieux are developing support programs to address this global issue. MBN spoke with Hector Barillas, Director General of bioMerieux Mexico, who shared that the company has an antimicrobial stewardship program. “Through this, we support governments on the use of antibiotics prescribed by doctors.” Barillas also explained that this program integrates health systems, “we are close with pharma companies because they can provide enough medical information on their drugs to support doctor’s decisions regarding antibiotic prescriptions. This collaborative effort brings the industry closer to value-based healthcare models.”

Mexico will join World Antibiotic Awareness Day in November and shares information to increase awareness on drug-resistant infections. The county has taken several steps to fight antimicrobial resistance. For example, antibiotics are only sold under prescription since 2010, which limits the excessive use of antibiotics.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst