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28 February 2017Big Pharma

WHO lists deadly bacteria in bid to push antibiotics R&D

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens”, a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria which it claims pose the greatest threat to human health.

The list was drafted to guide and promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of the WHO’s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said in a statement: “This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health needs.”

She added: “Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”

The catalogue is intended to encourage governments to put in place policies that “incentivise basic science and advanced R&D” by the private and public sectors investing in antibiotic discovery.

Hermann Gröhe, Germany’s federal minister of health, said: “We need effective antibiotics for our health systems. We have to take joint action today for a healthier tomorrow.”

He added that the list is an important new tool to “secure and guide research and development related to new antibiotics”.

The list was developed in collaboration with the division of infectious diseases at the University of Tübingen, Germany.

Evelina Tacconelli, head of the division of infectious diseases at the university, explained that new antibiotics targeting this list of pathogens will help to “reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world”.

She added that waiting any longer will cause further health problems and dramatically affect patient care.

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