[Ip-health] WHO News release: WHO publishes list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Feb 27 11:11:10 PST 2017


WHO publishes list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

News release

27 FEBRUARY 2017 | GENEVA - WHO today published its first ever list of
antibiotic-resistant "priority pathogens" – a catalogue of 12 families of
bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.

The list was drawn up in a bid to guide and promote research and
development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of WHO’s efforts to address
growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

The list highlights in particular the threat of gram-negative bacteria that
are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These bacteria have built-in
abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass along genetic
material that allows other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well.

"This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health
needs," says Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for
Health Systems and Innovation. "Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we
are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces
alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be
developed in time."

The WHO list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of
need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority.

The most critical group of all includes multidrug resistant bacteria that
pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients
whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. They
include *Acinetobacter*, *Pseudomonas* and various Enterobacteriaceae
(including *Klebsiella*, *E. coli*, *Serratia*, and *Proteus*). They can
cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and

These bacteria have become resistant to a large number of antibiotics,
including carbapenems and third generation cephalosporins – the best
available antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant bacteria.

The second and third tiers in the list – the high and medium priority
categories – contain other increasingly drug-resistant bacteria that cause
more common diseases such as gonorrhoea and food poisoning caused by

G20 health experts will meet this week in Berlin. Mr Hermann Gröhe, Federal
Minister of Health, Germany says "We need effective antibiotics for our
health systems. We have to take joint action today for a healthier
tomorrow. Therefore, we will discuss and bring the attention of the G20 to
the fight against antimicrobial resistance. WHO’s first global priority
pathogen list is an important new tool to secure and guide research and
development related to new antibiotics."

The list is intended to spur governments to put in place policies that
incentivize basic science and advanced R&D by both publicly funded agencies
and the private sector investing in new antibiotic discovery. It will
provide guidance to new R&D initiatives such as the WHO/Drugs for Neglected
Diseases initiative (DNDi) Global Antibiotic R&D Partnership that is
engaging in not-for-profit development of new antibiotics.

Tuberculosis – whose resistance to traditional treatment has been growing
in recent years – was not included in the list because it is targeted by
other, dedicated programmes. Other bacteria that were not included, such as
*streptococcus* A and B and chlamydia, have low levels of resistance to
existing treatments and do not currently pose a significant public health

The list was developed in collaboration with the Division of Infectious
Diseases at the University of Tübingen, Germany, using a multi-criteria
decision analysis technique vetted by a group of international experts. The
criteria for selecting pathogens on the list were: how deadly the
infections they cause are; whether their treatment requires long hospital
stays; how frequently they are resistant to existing antibiotics when
people in communities catch them; how easily they spread between animals,
from animals to humans, and from person to person; whether they can be
prevented (e.g. through good hygiene and vaccination); how many treatment
options remain; and whether new antibiotics to treat them are already in
the R&D pipeline.

"New antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to
reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world," says Prof
Evelina Tacconelli, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the
University of Tübingen and a major contributor to the development of the
list. "Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and
dramatically impact on patient care."

While more R&D is vital, alone, it cannot solve the problem. To address
resistance, there must also be better prevention of infections and
appropriate use of existing antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as
rational use of any new antibiotics that are developed in future.
WHO priority pathogens list for R&D of new antibioticsPriority 1: CRITICAL

   - *Acinetobacter baumannii*, carbapenem-resistant
   - *Pseudomonas aeruginosa*, carbapenem-resistant
   - *Enterobacteriaceae*, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing

Priority 2: HIGH

   - *Enterococcus faecium*, vancomycin-resistant
   - *Staphylococcus aureus*, methicillin-resistant,
   vancomycin-intermediate and resistant
   - *Helicobacter pylori*, clarithromycin-resistant
   - *Campylobacter* spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant
   - *Salmonellae*, fluoroquinolone-resistant
   - *Neisseria gonorrhoeae*, cephalosporin-resistant,

Priority 3: MEDIUM

   - *Streptococcus pneumoniae*, penicillin-non-susceptible
   - *Haemophilus influenzae*, ampicillin-resistant
   - *Shigella* spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant

Media contacts

Olivia Lawe-Davies
WHO Department of Communications
Mobile: +41 79 472 7429
Office : +41 22 791 4621
Email: lawedavieso at who.int

Simeon Bennett
WHO Department of Communications
Mobile: +41 79 603 7294
Telephone: +41 22 791 1578
E-mail: simeonb at who.int

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