A review, commissioned by the UK government, titled Review on Antimicrobial Resistance is calling for global coordination in efforts to combat the rising levels of drug resistance, in what UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned will cast us “back into the dark ages of medicine” if not dealt with.
At least 700,000 people already die every year from drug resistant illnesses, like malaria and HIV/Aids, the review expects this number to be as high as 10 million a year, or 1 every 3 seconds, by 2050. From an economic perspective this will cost the world 100 trillion USD every year in lost output.
While microbes naturally develop resistance over time, there are two main reasons why it is becoming more problematic. First of all, we are using antimicrobial drugs at ever increasing rates and concentrations, this provides more opportunity for the microbes to develop resistance to these drugs. The second problem is that some fields, antibiotics for example, have few new drugs in development to replace the old.
For antibiotics specifically, the development of new drugs is economically unattractive. This is because cheap generic drugs in the field have driven down the cost, patterns of resistance are difficult to anticipate and necessary policies to prevent resistance relegate new drugs to last-line defences.
The review actively produced and published studies and reports on AMR, with its first report being released in december of 2014, while also building, and advising on, an international package of “globally coordinated actions.” The global approach is important as international travel can easily make the effective policy of one nation entirely obsolete.
The final report by the review brings together 8 previous reports, compiling a list of actions that should be taken in order to prevent microbial resistance from progressing. The report has 7 interventions that intend to increase awareness of the problem in order to make current drugs last longer and 2 interventions intended to stimulate the creation of drugs that deal with already resistant bugs.