Drug development is lagging well behind the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, a panel of European Union health agencies has warned.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency said that 25,000 people in the EU are killed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, a phenomenon that costs 1.5 billion euros (£1.3 billion).
Warning that only 15 new drugs were under development to tackle the problem, the panel called on governments across Europe to set-up new strategies to fight such bacteria.
‘Industry’s pipeline contains very few new antibiotics active against multidrug-resistant bacteria. Without stimulating research and development into new antibiotics, an increasing number of infected patients will be without effective treatment,’ said Bo Aronsson, doctor and researcher with the European Medicines Agency.
The researchers added that cases of the most common healthcare associated infection MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) have been decreasing in recent years as a result of action plans in some EU countries. But they said the occurrence of multi-drug resistant strains of another type of bacteria, so-called gram-negatives, have been increasing steadily. There are few new drugs tackling these kind of bacteria, which include a resistant version of intestines bug E. coli, the researchers said.