As reported by the Press Association
Warning Over Antibiotics Resistance
A global network needs to be created to fund global antibiotic discovery to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance, a Conservative MP has warned.
Julian Sturdy said inaction was “simply not an option” as antibiotic resistance was already changing clinical practices in the UK.
The MP for York Outer branded the misuse of antibiotics as “the greatest threat potentially to mankind that we’ve seen”.
Bringing a Westminster Hall debate on antibiotic resistance, he said: “There’s never been any doubt about the link between the misuse of antibiotics and the resistance to them, but despite this antibiotics have been misused, and as a consequence we now face the prospect of losing modern medicine as we know it. Which when you take a moment to think about, and think about the consequences they are quite frankly horrifying.”
In 2013, he said, the Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies told Parliament of a “horrific scenario” where people going for simple operations in twenty years time could die of routine infections “because we have run out” of antibiotics.
He said: “To some this scenario may still seem too far in the future to warrant any immediate action, but for me, the clock started ticking on this issue a long time ago.”
The issue he argued, was “widely seen”, by organisations such as the World Health Organisation as a consequence of the use and overuse of antibiotics in both veterinary and human medicine.
He said: “The fact is that misuse, over prescription and poor diagnostics have driven an environment that favours the proliferation of resistant strains of bacteria rendering once vital medicines obsolete.”
Conservative David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden, said he thought the prospective failure of antibiotics was “one of the great threats to modern civilisation”.
While Labour’s Iain McKenzie, MP for Inverclyde, raised concerns about the “growing pressures” on GPs to prescribe antibiotics by patients causing over prescriptions.
Mr Sturdy outlined a three step plan to tackle the issue including the need for an in-depth report into into antimicrobial resistance.
He said he was pleased by the Prime Minister’s announcement in July that a report was going to be carried out by the renowned economist Jim O’Neil looking at the increase in drug related strains of bacteria, the market failure and the global over use of antibiotics.
He added: “I believe we are entering into a perfect storm, with no global organisation or global pharmas tackling the issue head on. Ultimately a global network needs to be created to fund global antibiotic discovery.”
Mr Sturdy added the Government needed to “step up” and support small companies who invest in antibiotic discovery.
He said: “All Governments have a responsibility to tackle this and only with a full cooperation across the world can we have a real impact.”
He added: “We live in a globalised world and 70% of the bacteria in it have now developed a resistance to antibiotics.”
Having gone through a “golden age of discovery”, the current world he argued had become “sadly complacent”, adding: “We cannot be the generation that squanders that golden legacy.”
Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said antibiotic prescriptions were rising while resistant bacterial infections were “also on the rise”, adding Government action was “overdue”.
Responding, public health minister Jane Ellison said the issue was “an extremely serious global public health threat”.
The Government she said was “not complacent” and recognised the scale of the threat.
She said: “We are not waiting for a grand global strategy to try and take action ourselves, we’ve already got a lot of things in hand because time is already running out for us.”
In September 2013, she said, the Government published the UK’s first five-year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy to address human, animal, food and environmental aspects of AMR and set up a steering group.
She said: “In addition to the important work to galvanise international action and stimulate drug development, we are trying to put in place that infrastructure and tools needed to improve infection prevention and control, diagnosis and prescribing in order to prevent the development and spread of AMR.”