David Cameron says that superbugs can cast “world back into the dark ages of medicine”

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for global action to tackle the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics. The Prime Minister said: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again.” The Prime Minister wants Britain to lead the way, using its international leadership and world-class pharmaceutical sector – which employs thousands of highly-skilled experts and is a key part of the country’s economy – to battle against antimicrobial resistant infections and bring new drugs to the world market. Mr Cameron has commissioned a wide reaching independent review, co-funded by the world’s second largest medical research foundation, the Wellcome Trust, to explore the economic issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance. The review will look at the development, use and regulatory environment of antimicrobials, especially antibiotics, and explore how to make investment in new antibiotics more attractive to pharmaceutical companies and other funding bodies and how governments and other funders can stimulate investment in new antimicrobials and timeframes and mechanisms for implementation. The review will set out a plan for encouraging and accelerating the discovery and development of new generations of antibiotics.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust said: “We are failing to contain the rise of resistance, and failing to develop new drugs to replace those that no longer work. We are heading for a post-antibiotic age”. The review will run alongside – and engage closely with – the World Health Organization’s development of a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance. The Resolution on Antimicrobial Resistance passed at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2014 recognised the pressing need for the global community to act immediately in the fight to combat increasing resistance.

Around 25,000 people already die each year from infections resistant to antibiotic drugs in Europe alone and the lack of new drugs which are capable of fighting bacteria has been described by the World Health Organization as one of the most significant global risks facing modern medicine. Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “The UK is demonstrating strong leadership in raising awareness about the global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance” and “WHO will work closely with the Review and other key partners on this important initiative.”

Dr Bill Love, CEO of Destiny Pharma said: “I am pleased that the British Government have recognised the global threat posed by antibiotic resistance and also identified that the UK is in an ideal position to lead the way in developing novel drugs to combat this threat due to the world-class pharmaceutical expertise that exists in this country. Novel approaches such as the Destiny Pharma drug, XF-73, which is being developed for the prevention of post-surgical Staphylococcal infections caused by drug resistant bacteria are required to ensure that we can combat the threat posed by antibiotic resistance.”