David Cameron seeking global superbug response

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According to David Cameron antibiotic-resistant superbugs are set to push the world back into the ‘dark ages’ of medicine. He has pledged that the UK will lead a worldwide effort in a bid to develop new drugs. He has put out a call for a coordinated worldwide response to untreatable bacteria, which he describes as one of the main health threats facing everyone today.

Mr Cameron will shortly announce an independent review to identify why new drugs have not been put on the international market. The review will be led by the former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill and is expected to place emphasis on the regulatory environment and development of antibiotics.

The prime minister earlier this month said that immediate action is required to boost the development of drugs for the treatment of dementia and led a drive during the G8 presidency in the UK last year to try and start a global initiative to find a cure by 2025. It is said that Mr Cameron raised the issue of superbugs during the G7 summit last year.

He added that when these problems surfaced in the past, be it on how to tackle Aids and HIV or how to take the lead and eradicate diseases such as polio, Britain has always been the leader and he feels that Britain should do so again.

Scientists have estimated that around 5000 people die in the UK on an annual basis due to bacteria which has become antibiotic resistant. Warnings have been issued that this will have huge repercussion in the future. Surgical procedures and treatment for other diseases will become extremely difficult to do if there was no method of killing off random infections in the patients.

Over the past six decades, three generations of antibiotics has been produced by pharmaceutical companies. The first generation included natural penicillin. This particular group was set aside once bacteria evolved enzymes which split the drugs. The second included synthetic penicillin, which were adjusted in the laboratory to resist the enzymes of the bugs. Bacteria gained resistance to these as well. The last generation, carbapenems, were modified even further. In Britain, the first microbes that indicated immunity to these were seen during 2003.

Image Credit: DFID

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