More must be done to develop new antibiotics, leading pharmacists say

More must be done to develop new antibiotics, leading pharmacists say



Big drug companies have little incentive to develop new antibioticss despite huge concerns about resistance to the drugs, leading pharmacists have said.


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said the prospect of creating new drugs was "low due to the poor return on investment they provide".


In its latest report, the RPS said more must be done to support the discovery of new antibiotics.


The RPS also called for more education for the public on the use of the medicines and better management of the drugs by healthcare workers.


Its chief scientist, Prof Jayne Lawrence, said: "The current crisis in antimicrobial resistance is in part due to the lack of new classes of antibiotics coming on the market.


"Antibiotics can cure infections in weeks, so the volume of sales of drugs is low.


"This doesn't allow the tens or even hundreds of millions required for research and development to be recouped."

She said the NHS needed to fund new treatments that were not economic for drug companies to justify the high upfront costs of research.


"Unless we find a way to develop treatments that cure illnesses in months, rather than treat symptoms for years, we will not see the breakthroughs that both scientists and patients want."


In April the World Health Organisation warned that antibiotic resistance was no longer a looming danger but a reality with the potential to affect anyone of any age in any country.


It said urgent action was needed to stem the threat to global public health before it was too late.


Last year, England's chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said resistance to antibiotics was one of the greatest threats to modern health and posed an "apocalyptic threat".


She stressed that many of the drugs were being used unnecessarily for mild infections which should not be treated with antibiotics, helping to fuel resistance. In time, that would mean that patients undergoing simple operations would die from routine infections.


Davies said there had been a "discovery void" in the field since 1987 – when the last of the drugs were developed – and called for better incentives for drug companies to create new antibiotics.


The RPS report said there was an urgent need for new medicines and funding.


It has called for a "revolution in financing to match the coming treatment revolution".


The authors of the report, titled New Medicines, Better Medicines, Better Use of Medicines, said there were "major challenges" inhibiting the creation of new medicines and set out a series of recommendations for the government, the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry.


It said more must be done to reduce the time and money needed to bring a new medicine to the market, and new funding mechanisms needed to be explored in order to incentivise drug development.



By The Guardian


The Guardian, Thursday 8th May, 2014



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