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MRSA Action UK: British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy The Urgent Need Initiative Exploratory Meeting

There is a pressing need to increase public understanding of, and political interest in the development and discovery of solutions to address the diminishing stock of effective antibiotics that underpin modern medicine.

MRSA Action UK will investigate partnering with organisations that represent patients for whom antibiotics are critical and integral to their treatment. An exploratory meeting on how can we collaborate to promote the need to develop new antibiotics will take place on the 14th April.

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) is the leading scientific organisation in the UK involved in the treatment of infections. It is generally accepted that antibiotics have played a most important role in world public health over the last 50-60 years. The problem now confronting mankind is antibiotic resistance, and the rise of the "super-bug" arguably making this one of the biggest challenges facing medicine for 50 years.

The BSAC has recently reported on the issues surrounding this problem. There are very few antibiotics being developed on the one hand and rising bacterial resistance on the other. We will soon be in a position of not having effective therapy for common infections or to support treatments in other therapy areas.

The reasons behind this are primarily economic.

Antibiotics are usually given in short courses (5-10 days), and are perceived as being inexpensive. Pharmaceutical companies, quite understandably, are interested in developing agents which patients will take for the long term and/or of high value/price. The development of antibiotic resistance may well shorten the financial returns to a company. If we then add increasing bureaucracy surrounding the regulatory process of bringing any drug to market and the research cut-backs in big pharmaceutical companies and there is a major problem confronting society.

The magnitude of the problem faced is aptly demonstrated by the IDSA 2004 Report Bad Bugs, No Drugs, which reports on sixteen new antibacterial agents being approved and brought to market between 1983-1987, compared with the estimate that between only two and four new antibacterial agents will reach market between 2008-2012. It is by no means clear if even these will address the current clinical issues.

The Urgent Need initiative was established in response to these concerns, to identify barriers discouraging participation in antibacterial drug discovery research, and to consider what opportunities exist to re-stimulate interest in the field. The stakeholders will explore working collaboratively on deciding the actions needed to encourage the development and discovery of solutions to the diminishing stock of antibiotics that underpin most areas of medicine.

We don't want to go back to the 19th century and the pre-antibiotic era, this important programme is aptly named The Urgent Need initiative. "Antibiotic resistance - one of the three greatest threats to human health", World Health Organisation, 2009

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