Experts Warn Dip In Antibiotic R&D Could Lead To Treatment Challenges

The 50th annual meeting of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) kicked off in Boston on Sunday with experts warning that a “slowdown” in research on antibiotic development could result in treatment challenges, Agence France-Presse reports. 

“We have a big resistance problem that has become a global health crisis,” Ursula Theuretzbacher of the Austrian Center for Anti-Infective Agents said at the conference. AFP added that “Theuretzbacher said thousands of people were being affected and dying from multidrug resistance, which had become a big problem in developing – as well as in – developed countries.”

The article notes the reduction in scientific research on antibiotic development by 50 percent over the past 10 years, as described by Johnson and Johnson’s Gary Noel, who gave several reasons for the decline. It also includes additional comments by Theuretzbacher, who proposes the creation of public-private partnerships to fill the gaps in antibiotic development funding and calls for greater regulation of antibiotics (Santini, 9/13).

“Drug resistance in bacteria, blamed on excessive and improper use of antibiotics, is not new, and health experts warn of an increasingly dangerous environment where the problem can flourish,” AFP writes in a separate article. The article points to the Lancet study published last month, which identified a gene enabling bacteria to resist most antibiotics as a sign of the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

The article includes comments by Lindsay Grayson of Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, who is program chair of the ICAAC conference, who was quoted as saying on the topic of antibiotic resistance, “There is still time and plenty of opportunities to fix things.”

The ICAAC meeting will run through Tuesday, September 14, with an estimated 12,000 in attendance, according to the news service (Santini, 9/11).

Washington Post Examines How India Became ‘Busy Center For Counterfeit, Substandard Medicines’

The Washington Post examines how India, “the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, has become a busy center for counterfeit and substandard medicines,” and how such drugs are making their way into developing countries.

“Experts say the global fake-drug industry, worth about $90 billion, causes the deaths of almost 1 million people a year and is contributing to a rise in drug resistance,” according to the newspaper. “Estimates vary on the number of these drugs made in India. The Indian government says that 0.4 percent of the country’s drugs are counterfeit and that substandard drugs account for about 8 percent. But independent estimates range from 12 to 25 percent.”

The newspaper notes that counterfeit drugs are having an impact on India’s image and the recent efforts taken by the government to “clamp down on the illegal trade … The number of people arrested for manufacturing and selling fake drugs rose from 12 in 2006 to 147 last year, and drugs worth about $6.5 million were seized over this period.”

The piece includes comments by Suresh Sati who is “head of a New Delhi-based agency that helps police conduct raids against counterfeit-drug syndicates across the country,” Barun Mitra, “director of the New Delhi-based think tank Liberty Institute,” as well as an individual who told the newspaper he purchases counterfeit drugs (Lakshmi, 9/11).

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