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Urgent Call for Novel Antibacterial Agents to Combat Severe Infections

Friday 14 June 2024 - 13:50
Urgent Call for Novel Antibacterial Agents to Combat Severe Infections

In a report released on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded the alarm for the urgent development of innovative antibacterial agents to combat severe infections. While acknowledging an increase in the number of antibacterial agents currently undergoing clinical development—from 80 in 2021 to 97 in 2023 the WHO emphasizes the pressing need for novel agents capable of tackling life-threatening infections and replacing those rendered ineffective by widespread use.

"Antimicrobial resistance is only worsening, yet we are not developing new, innovative products quickly enough to counter the most dangerous and deadly bacteria," warned Yukiko Nakatani, WHO's interim Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance.

Nakatani further highlighted the challenge of access, stating, "Even when new products are approved, access remains a formidable hurdle, with antibacterial agents simply not reaching patients in desperate need."

The report reveals a sobering reality: of the 32 antibiotics under development to treat infections on the WHO's list of priority pathogens, only 12 can be considered truly innovative. Alarmingly, just four of these 12 agents are active against at least one of the WHO's "critical" pathogens.

Since July 1, 2017, 13 new antibiotics have received marketing authorization. However, only two represent genuinely novel chemical classes and can be classified as truly innovative. This underscores the scientific and technical challenges inherent in discovering new, effective, and safe antibacterial agents for human use.

The WHO's call to action resonates with urgency as the world grapples with the ever-increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance and the dire need for groundbreaking solutions to safeguard global health and combat life-threatening infections.

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