News and Opinions  –  2017

Lack of access to old antibiotics drives antibiotic resistance development and impairs patient outcomes

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Old, but still effective antibiotics used to treat a variety of common bacterial infections are becoming more difficult to access in many countries - often because companies withdraw the drugs from the market for commercial reasons.

In a commentary in Clinical Microbiology and Infection published today and co-authored by Professor Otto Cars, researchers argue that the lack of access to old antibiotics forces prescribers to use alternative broad spectrum antibiotic treatments which may come with worse side-effects for the patient and lead to bacteria developing resistance.

Co-author of the commentary, ReAct’s Professor Otto Cars, says:

“From the perspective of both patients and public health, it is important to find a solution to keep these antibiotics on the market. In the absence of new effective antibiotics in the pipeline, some of these older drugs are also becoming our last option for treating multi-resistant bacteria, which are on the rise”.

Lead author of the article, Céline Pulcini, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Nancy University Hospital and University of Lorraine, France, and secretary of ESCMID Study Group for Antimicrobial stewardshiP (ESGAP) says:

“There are also additional challenges for treating babies and children who need much smaller doses and different formulations than adults. Bacterial infections can be particularly dangerous for premature babies, but today doctors may have to contend with 80mg vials when trying to give a dose of just a few milligrams, because no pediatric formulations of these old antibiotics are available”.

The authors call on the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission to explore options to improve the availability of old antibiotics on the market, and work to ensure that reformulation of old antibiotics for appropriate pediatric use are supported, including through product development partnerships such as the WHO/DNDI Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP).

Otto Cars, founder of ReAct.

“The access to and appropriate formulation of older antibiotics needs to be a global priority and should addressed in the global debate on how to ensure sustainable access to effective antibiotics for all in need. It is encouraging to note that the issue was brought up in the context of the Fair Pricing Forum co-organized by the WHO and the Dutch Government in Amsterdam last week”, says Professor Otto Cars.

Read press release from ESCMID.