New effort needed to fight anti-microbial resistance

Medicines Australia today gives its support to the 2011 WHO World Health Day, whose theme is anti-microbial resistance. It focuses on the problem of antibiotics losing their effectiveness over time as bacteria evolve and mutate to become resistant to treatment.

More than 7000 Australians die each year – or 20 every day – from drug-resistant bacteria such as golden staph infections.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the problem of anti-microbial resistance requires a collaborative response, bringing together leaders in government, science, economics, public policy and industry.

“The medicines industry shares the WHO’s concerns about the global spread of anti-microbial resistance,” Dr Shaw said.

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

“Governments around the world must work with pharmaceutical companies 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.

“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.”

Medicines Australia endorses the global medicines industry’s proposal to combat anti-microbial resistance, set out in a new position paper to be launched today by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

The paper proposes ensuring medicines are prescribed and used appropriately and greater incentives for companies to invest in the infection area as two important aspects to avoiding a crisis of growing resistance.

In launching the position paper, the global medicines industry commits to continuing R&D investment in the development of new antibacterial agents; working with WHO and national governments in the areas of education, prevention, innovation and access; and supporting the WHO’s work to advise on appropriate use of antibiotics.


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Jamie Nicholson
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Phone: 0419 220 293