February 21, 2019

Britain launches 5-year antimicrobial resistance action plan

27 January 2019, 10:24 | Silvia Roy

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Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, welcomed the plans, saying: 'Too many people are already dying as a result of drug-resistant infections around the world, while many still do not have access to the antibiotics they need.

Theresa May commented: "It is vital that we tackle the spread of drug-resistant infections before routine operations and minor illnesses become life-threatening".

At the moment, firms are paid by the quantity of antibiotics they sell but this will be changed so they receive cash according to how valuable the drugs are to the NHS.

Health officials in the United Kingdom have raised the spectre of an "antibiotic apocalypse", with concerns that routine procedures such as Caesarean section could become too risky to perform because of the risk of infection.

"Low returns on investment in development means 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".

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The plan was released along with a 20-year vision for how the United Kingdom will sustain its efforts against antimicrobial resistance.

I am proud of the work the United Kingdom has done to secure antimicrobial resistance on the global agenda.

We have today set a target in the United Kingdom of cutting resistant infections by 10% within the next five years.

At the same time, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirmed a year ago that more than 90,000 people in Britain could die over the next three decades unless action is taken to halt the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbug infections.

In 2018, Public Health England reported the case of of a United Kingdom man infected with a multidrug-resistant form of gonorrhea. Antibiotic resistance needs to be treated as a global health emergency, he said. Without effective antibiotics, straightforward, everyday operations like caesarean sections or hip replacements could become too risky to perform.

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"As a effect, we anticipate antibiotic use will continue to fall - and the aspiration expressed in the Government plan that the result will be a further 25 percent reduction between 2016 and 2020 is definitely achievable".

It also covers antibiotics in livestock, highlighting the Government's commitment to working with vets and farmers to further reduce antibiotic use in animals by 25% between 2016 and 2020, with objectives to be refreshed by 2021. Resistance occurs everywhere that bacteria are found: "in people, in animals and in the environment", Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement. According to a recent analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts, only 11 antibiotics that target the most serious antibiotic-resistant pathogens are now in clinical trials.

The Department of Health and Social Care's five-year plan 'Tackling antimicrobial resistance 2019-2024,' says these pharmacists are a "key link" with colleagues in primary care and can review antibiotic prescribing and challenge when it is inappropriate.

There are an estimated 53,000 resistant infections per year and more than 60% of those are picked up in healthcare settings.

But antibiotics are easily available over the counter in many low- and middle-income countries, which means "unregulated medicines are still available in places such as street markets, with no limits on how they are used", it said.

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