WHO issues alarming report on coming shortage of antibiotics
A new report issued today by the World Health Organization shows a “serious lack” of new antibiotics in development, even as resistance to existing antibiotics are on the rise. The head of the WHO said the report shows an “urgent need” for investment into research and development. In addition, a second report today from WHO on prioritisation of pathogens for R&D into new antibiotics.
The 48-page report, “Antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis,” is available here, according to WHO.
Most drugs currently in the pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and are only short-term solutions, the report found. It “identifies 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development to treaty priority antibiotic pathogens, as well as tuberculosis and the sometimes deadly diarrhoeal infection Clostridium difficile,” the release said.
“Among all these candidate medicines, however, only 8 are classed by WHO as innovative treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal,” it added.
The report makes several references to patents. The study did not cover vaccines.
Separately, the WHO today also published a report entitled, “Prioritization of pathogens to guide discovery, research and development of new antibiotics for drug-resistant bacterial infections, including tuberculosis.”
[Update:] The pharmaceutical industry issued a statement saying it is already working on the challenge and that partnership is needed.
“The world is rightly impatient for solutions to antibiotic resistance. Resistance undermines both our ability to fight infectious diseases and much of modern medicine, which has rarely faced such a grave threat. Only by working together can we deliver an effective and sustainable global response,” Thomas Cueni, director general, of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), said in the statement.
Industry highlighted that “There are currently 62 R&D projects for Tuberculosis, 4 of which are targeting multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). The pipeline is starting to have an impact, with two novel antibiotics targeting specifically MDR TB already making an impact following their approval in 2014. These novel antibiotics discoveries come after a void of over decades.”
It also pointed to new recent developments:
“Multi-drug-resistant TB: Building on its R&D capacity that led to first-ever medicine approved for MDR-TB (bedaquiline) by the FDA in 2012, Johnson & Johnson announced in August 2017 that it has teamed with India’s Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) to develop new treatments for tuberculosis. The goal is to accelerate research for safer, more effective, all-oral treatments for multi-drug-resistant TB, as well as TB drugs with novel mechanisms for all people with TB.
Multi-drug-resistant malaria: Novartis and the Medicines for Malaria Venture (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) are starting a new clinical trial next month to test KAF156, a molecule that could form the basis of a new treatment against artemisinin-resistant malaria strains.”