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Antimicrobial resistance – does the Davos Declaration impact me?

If you were coughing your way through early January in the vain hope that a short course of antibiotics will do the trick, think again. It’s now widely recognised that we have over-indulged on the quick-fix antibiotic, and inadvertently contributed to the alarming rise in antimicrobial resistance. Lemon and honey with a few days in bed might be the better prescription, unless of course things take a definitive turn for the worst.

Written by Paul Brown on 23rd February 2016

Antimicrobial resistance – does the Davos Declaration impact me?

If you were coughing your way through early January in the vain hope that a short course of antibiotics will do the trick, think again. It’s now widely recognised that we have over-indulged on the quick-fix antibiotic, and inadvertently contributed to the alarming rise in antimicrobial resistance. Lemon and honey with a few days in bed might be the better prescription, unless of course things take a definitive turn for the worst.

What got me thinking about this was the recent call by the global pharmaceutical industry for governments to work with them to beat the rising threat of drug resistance. Using the World Economic Forum in Davos to launch their Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance, http://amr-review.org/industry-declaration , the 85 company leaders have stepped up to the challenge, and are looking to others to follow. So, what are they calling for, how is global action possible and does it impact me?

According to Sir Andrew Witty, CEO at one of the signatories GlaxoSmithKline, the pharma industry is already working in a more open and collaborative approach towards new drug research.  What is needed is for governments to encourage a reduction in the use of antibiotics, and at the same time to provide incentives for the research and development of a new generation of drugs. Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme at 08:50 on 21st January http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06wg9dt , Sir Andrew highlighted the dilemma faced by companies whose new antibiotics, to remain effective, are unlikely to be sold in large volumes. So how might governments, faced with a potential healthcare crisis, best incentive's the commercialisation of a new product? Do we need a different economic model which rewards open innovation, collaborative risk-taking, manufacturing and distribution? And how does that work in a rewards-driven global financial system?

If you work in the drug discovery and development field you will understand the complexity and the cost behind bringing a new antibiotic to market – which is why the Davos Declaration may be the turning point needed for a change in corporate culture and behaviour, for the greater good and health of the population. 

Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer added in the Declaration press statement: "A secure supply of new antibiotics for the future is clearly of vital importance, and I look forward to seeing an advancement of discussions between companies and governments on how we build new and sustainable market models that properly incentivise the discovery and development of new antibiotics.”

On a practical note, if infection prevention and control is an obvious way to preserve our use of antibiotics, then the Cleanroom Technology-hosted conference on 12th May at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel is certainly very timely. http://tinyurl.com/gu7log3. Infection Prevention and Containment - Preparing for the Next Crisis will look at the loss of antibiotics and the future impact on the prevention of infections in hospitals.

Meanwhile, I’m off to the gym.  Partly to prepare for my Three Peaks Challenge later this year, but also to fend off any unwanted bugs.

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