Collaboration key to developing new antibiotics

Governments around the world must work with the medicines industry and other parties to create a policy environment that will encourage the development of new antibiotics, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said today.

Dr Shaw said Antibiotics Awareness Week, which is underway, was a good time for the governments around the world to focus on the problem of antibiotics losing their effectiveness over time as bacteria evolve and mutate to become resistant to treatment.

“The problem of anti-microbial resistance requires a collaborative response, bringing together leaders in government, science, economics, public policy and industry,” Dr Shaw said.

“The medicines industry shares the concerns of the World Health Organisation about the global spread of anti-microbial resistance.

“Without new effective antibiotics, many complex medical interventions like chemotherapy, joint replacements and organ transplants would be very difficult or impossible.

“Governments around the world need to start working with the medicines industry and other parties to create a policy environment that will prevent and counter the emergence of highly resistant infections.

“There is a desperate need for greater incentives for research into new antibiotics.

“Governments in the US and Europe are starting to realise that there are few new antibiotics available today because it has become too difficult for companies to develop new therapies over the last 20 years due to things like restrictive regulatory systems and low prices.

“The result is while the medicines industry has invested billions of dollars in developing new medicines over the last two decades, antibiotics are one area where companies have exited the market.

“In cancer, governments have been prepared to pay for new treatments as they are developed. The result is that today the industry has over 800 new cancer medicines in development, compared with 83 antibiotics.

“It is alarming that the current generation of Australians have to make do with the same antibiotics our parents used 30 years ago. Patients deserve better than that.”


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