United Kingdom launches action plan on AMR


"Antimicrobial resistance is a big danger to humanity and is as big a danger as climate change or warfare".

"I suspect that the development of new antibiotics is not as easy as it might seem".

"We need to get to a stage where antibiotics are not seen by patients as a "catch all" for every illness, but rather as a serious drug option, usually reserved for when all other treatment options have either failed or been deemed inappropriate".

The UK government on Thursday set out a new 20-year vision for how it proposes to contain and control AMR, in addition to a more detailed five-year plan setting out more immediate actions.

Medical charity the Wellcome Trust welcomed news of the government plan but urged it to move quickly.

Almost half a million people developed multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in 2016.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said: "We have been working closely with the government for the last two years and pharmaceutical companies are ready and waiting to start testing a new model to support antibiotics R&D in 2019".

The new United Kingdom strategy, backed by the prime minister, will see the government adopt a 20-year plan with targets to reduce infection and antibiotic use among humans and in livestock and pets.

At the heart of that plan is the development of a new way of paying for antibiotics that he said will start development in the NHS within the next six months.

Under a new NHS strategy, drug companies will also be paid millions to develop antibiotics that will be rarely used, to combat deadly superbugs that have grown resistant to existing drugs. "I don't want it to be the future for my children - yet it may be unless we act", Hancock is expected to say.

Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections but they are of no use against viruses such as colds and flu.

Low returns on investment in developing drugs also mean the pharmaceutical "industry does not innovate enough and as a result, very few of the new drugs that are now in the pipeline are targeted towards priority infections", according to a press release from the UK's Department of Health and Social Care.

But the number of drug-resistant bloodstream infections has risen by 35 per cent from 2013 to 2017.

Only three countries in WHO's African region and seven countries in its Americas region have limited the use of antimicrobials in animals, moves which World Health Organization calls "an important step to reduce the emergence of antimicrobial resistance".

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is developing the new formula in conjunction with industry and is due to publish its proposals at the end of January 2019. Everyday operations like caesarean sections or hip replacements could become too risky to perform in the absence of effective antibiotics.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Hancock said resistance needs to be treated as a global health emergency.

"The UK has shown worldwide leadership in raising the profile of this global health threat and today reinforces its commitment to finding solutions to the issues which have hampered the development of new medicines for so long".

"If you just buy the drugs in a direct way from the drug companies, the commercial incentives are to keep pumping out the old antibiotics", Hancock said.