Friday, 30 June 2017

Market pressures hampering access to essential antibiotics

Antibiotics used to treat a variety of common bacterial infections are becoming more difficult to access, mostly because the drugs are less profitable for manufacturers to produce and market.

Writing in a commentary in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, researchers say the problem is particularly acute for formulations needed to treat sick babies and children.

They say doctors increasingly have to use alternative antibiotic treatments, which may have worse side-effects for patients, including encouraging the growth of drug-resistant bacteria -- one of the greatest threats to public health.

The lead author of the report is Céline Pulcini, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Nancy University Hospital and University of Lorraine, France, and secretary of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases' (ESCMID) Study Group for Antibiotic Policies (ESGAP). The report was co-authored by a group of experts from different organisations, including ESCMID, Action on Antibiotic Resistance (ReAct), the International Society of Chemotherapy, the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the French Infectious Diseases society (SPILF).

Prof. Pulcini explained: "These are drugs that have been available for many years but they are still effective for treating conditions such as skin infections, cystitis and sore throat. Some of them also have a role to play in tackling drug-resistant bacteria.

"However, their patents expired many years ago and drug manufacturers may see them as less attractive prospects to register, sell and market in countries around the world."


C. Pulcini, B. Beovic, G. Béraud, J. Carlet, O. Cars, P. Howard, G. Levy-Hara, G. Li, D. Nathwani, F. Roblot, M. Sharland. Ensuring universal access to old antibiotics: a critical but neglected priority. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmi.2017.04.026

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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