What would happen if you got an infection and there was no effective antibiotic available to treat it? The World Health Organization (WHO) says this is no longer a “what if” scenario, it’s already happening in every region of the world. And without urgent action, the organization says, we are heading for an era in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.
When an antibiotic is no longer able to effectively control or kill bacteria that cause infections, it is considered to be “resistant” and can’t be used as a treatment. The WHO report says the implications of a world without antibiotics will be devastating and that resistance should be considered a major threat to public health.
A special supplement about antibiotics in the May issue of the journal Nature reports that in the United States, germs that are resistant to antibiotics infect at least 2 million people every year, making these infections more commonplace in the US population than cancer. At least 23,000 of those infected with antibiotic-resistant germs die.
Despite the seriousness of this problem, the pipeline for new antibiotics is very small.
We are one of the few big pharma companies still actively developing antibiotics. Our anti-bacterials discovery performance unit, based outside Philadelphia, is involved in a number of creative collaborations and funding partnerships with other companies, academia, and funding bodies, including the US government.
Last year, the chief medical officer for England said the rise in drug-resistant infections was comparable to the threat of global warming. The WHO report is intended to launch a global effort to do something about it.