‘Post-an­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse’ alert as ac­tion urged on drug re­sis­tance

Western Mail - - NEWS - Ella Pick­over news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

GLOBAL lead­ers have been warned of a “post-an­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse” if drug re­sis­tance is not ur­gently tack­led.

Eng­land’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, Dame Sally Davies, said that if an­tibi­otics lose their ef­fec­tive­ness it will spell “the end of mod­ern medicine”.

With­out the drugs used to fight in­fec­tions, com­mon med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions such as Cae­sarean sec­tions, cancer treat­ments and hip re­place­ments would be­come in­cred­i­bly “risky”, she said.

And trans­plant medicine would be a “thing of the past”, she added.

“We really are fac­ing, if we don’t take ac­tion now, a dread­ful postan­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse,” she told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I don’t want to say to my chil­dren that I didn’t do my best to pro­tect them and their chil­dren.”

Health ex­perts have pre­vi­ously warned that re­sis­tance to an­timi­cro­bial drugs could cause a big­ger threat to mankind than cancer.

In re­cent years the UK has led a drive to raise global aware­ness of the threat posed to mod­ern medicine by an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance (AMR).

Around 700,000 peo­ple around the world die an­nu­ally due to dru­gre­sis­tant

in­clud­ing (TB), HIV and malaria.

If no ac­tion is taken it has been es­ti­mated that drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions will kill 10 mil­lion peo­ple a year by 2050.

Raj Ag­gar­wal, a com­mu­nity phar­ma­cist in Cardiff, said: “As a health­care pro­fes­sional and a fa­ther and grand­fa­ther this is a real worry to me. It is great to see such pow­er­ful rhetoric, how­ever, like cli­mate change, we have failed to take ac­tion early enough.

“Phar­ma­cies across Wales dis­pense the vast ma­jor­ity of an­timi­cro­bials and still, de­spite con­stant lob­by­ing, in­fec­tions tu­ber­cu­lo­sis we do not still have a ‘de­layed an­tibi­otic ser­vice’ in place, no con­trac­tual role in an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance or even any NHS-pro­vided lit­er­a­ture to is­sue to pa­tients when an­tibi­otics are supplied.

“The UK Gov­ern­ment have year after year looked to strip fund­ing from the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, de­spite warn­ings this will only re­duce in­vest­ment in re­search for new an­timi­cro­bials.

“At a time of na­tional cri­sis gov­ern­ments across the world should be look­ing at work­ing in part­ner­ship with the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try to en­sure that the cor­rect in­cen­tives are in place to find the next gen­er­a­tion of an­timi­cro­bials.

“This may mean ex­tend­ing patent pe­ri­ods, tax breaks and in­vest­ment in­cen­tives. It’s al­ready very late to take this ac­tion but please do not wait for it to be­come too late. Rhetoric is all fine, but what are they do­ing to turn rhetoric into re­al­ity?”

The com­ments come as the UK Gov­ern­ment and the Well­come Trust, along with oth­ers, have or­gan­ised a “call to ac­tion” meet­ing for health of­fi­cials from around the globe.

At the meet­ing in Ber­lin, the gov­ern­ment will also an­nounce a new project which will map the spread of death and dis­ease caused by drug-re­sis­tant “su­per­bugs”.

Dame Sally added: “This AMR is with us now, killing peo­ple. This is a se­ri­ous is­sue that is with us now, caus­ing deaths. If it was any­thing else peo­ple would be up in arms about it. But be­cause it is hid­den they just let it pass.

“It does not really have a ‘face’ be­cause most peo­ple who die of drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions, their fam­i­lies just think they died of an un­con­trolled in­fec­tion.”

She added: “Not to be able to ef­fec­tively treat in­fec­tions means that Cae­sarean sec­tions, hip re­place­ments, mod­ern surgery, is risky.

“Mod­ern cancer treat­ment is risky and trans­plant medicine be­comes a thing of the past.”

Dame Sally warned that if the global com­mu­nity did not act then the progress which had been made in Bri­tain may be “un­der­mined”.

She added: “We use more than I would like and we es­ti­mate that about one in three or one in four pre­scrip­tions in pri­mary care are prob­a­bly not needed.

“But other coun­tries use vastly more an­tibi­otics in the com­mu­nity and they need to start do­ing as we are, which is re­duc­ing us­age.

“Our lat­est data shows that we have re­duced hu­man con­sump­tion by 4.3% in 2014/15 from the year be­fore.”

In Septem­ber, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion warned that an­tibi­otics are “run­ning out” as a re­port found a “se­ri­ous lack” of new drugs in the de­vel­op­ment pipe­line.

The new project which will map the spread of su­per­bugs is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the UK Gov­ern­ment, Well­come Trust, Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, the Univer­sity of Ox­ford and In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion.

For­eign and In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Alis­tair Burt said the project will help to “pin­point prob­lem ar­eas”.

He said: “The UK is not con­tent to sit back and let this turn into a catas­tro­phe. Part of the prob­lem has been a lack of co-or­di­na­tion of global ef­forts and an un­der­stand­ing of where we need to tar­get our fu­ture ef­forts.

“The part­ner­ship we are an­nounc­ing to­day – part of more than £160m in new re­search fund­ing in the past year – will help us to pin­point prob­lem ar­eas.

“This is just one part of our morethan £615m in­vest­ment by the UK Gov­ern­ment into tack­ling dru­gre­sis­tant in­fec­tions since we launched our Na­tional Strat­egy at the end of 2013.”

> The world is run­ning out of ef­fec­tive an­tibi­otics

> Dame Sally Davies

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.