With AMR (antimicrobial resistance) being looked upon as a massive threat, the world is gripped with dearth of novel antibiotics for treating drug-resistant infections. As such, the makers of drugs are compelled to give access to producing more antibiotics to the poorer nations. Research also states that antifungals are equally required, as resistance against drugs has increased at a rate faster than expected, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is a known fact that infections resistance to drugs are likely of spreading rapidly, that too, without access of people to the essential antifungals and antibiotics treating systemic infections like cryptococcal meningitis (a kind of meningitis caused due to fungus).
Majority of pharmaceuticals personnel are focusing on development of novel antibiotics and various other drugs for tackling “superbugs”, but there isn’t much emphasis on making the older medicines available in middle- and low-income countries. These observations have been released by Access to Medicine Foundation (a non-profit group based out of Amsterdam). It is actually sending these findings to group of G20 nations with the hope of having issues included to be discussed at their upcoming summit in Bali in the month of November.
What is Gram saying?
It has been reported by Gram (Global research on AntiMicrobial resistance) that every year, over 1 Mn people succumb to antimicrobial resistance. Lancet published these findings this year. This resistance is found to be the worst in sub-Saharan Africa.
When doctors can’t spot the drugs they are in need of, they are compelled to prescribe alternatives that are less effective. This, hereby, does create opportunities for bacteria and viruses to develop the resistance and turn out to be “superbugs”.
The Foundation’s report has also stated that the people who are at the infection’s and drug resistance’s highest risk do have the toughest time in getting antibiotics needed for surviving fungal and bacterial infections. It further stated that out of 166 vaccines and medicines available for infectious diseases, only 54 were covered through the access strategy for making them available to middle- and low-income countries.
As per Jayshree Iyer, chief executive of the foundation, there were hardly any incentives for drugmakers for selling the antifungals and antibiotics in the poorer countries, where they would encounter fragile supply chains and thinner profit margins. At the same time, the report did infer that deeper study of local demand, diversification of the supply chains, and long-term procurement strategies through tenders (for securing voluminous medicines or vaccines at specific cost) should be helping the drugmakers sell the older medicines in those poorer countries.
Various positive examples also surfaced through the study. One of them was – France-based Sanofi, since the year 2008, let local firms based out of Nigeria make an off-patent antibiotic entitled “metronidazole (Flagyl)”, which would treat gastrointestinal infections and vaarious other conditions. Sanofi is in fact, into partnership with May & Baker (subsidiary of a British chemical company once upon a time) for producing 500K boxes of antibiotics every single year for the market based out of Nigeria.
The market for antibiotics is expected to throw in many surprises going forward.