Drugmakers are urged to make more antibiotics and antifungal drugs available to low- and middle-income countries as drug resistance is growing faster than expected globally.
Drug-resistant infections can spread rapidly without people having access to essential antibiotics and antifungals that treat serious systemic infections such as cryptococcal meningitis, a type of meningitis caused by a fungus.
So far, much of the attention has been focused on developing new antibiotics and other drugs to fight ‘superbugs’, but not enough emphasis has been placed on making them available. of older drugs in low- and middle-income countries, according to a report by the Access to Medicine Foundation, an Amsterdam-based nonprofit group. He is sending the study to the group of G20 countries in the hope that the issues will be included for discussion at their next summit in Bali in November.
Globally, more than a million people die each year from antimicrobial resistance, more than the 700,000 estimated in 2014, report says Gram (Global Research on AntiMicrobial resistance) published in the Lancet this year. Drug resistance is worst in sub-Saharan Africa.
When doctors can’t get the drugs they need, they’re forced to prescribe less effective alternatives, creating opportunities for viruses and bacteria to develop resistance and become “superbugs.”
“People who face the highest risk of infection and the highest rates of drug resistance have the hardest time getting the antibiotics they need to survive serious bacterial and fungal infections,” the report said. of the foundation. Only 54 of the 166 infectious disease drugs and vaccines assessed by last year’s study were covered by an access strategy aimed at making them available to low- and middle-income countries.
The coronavirus pandemic has made matters worse. Antibiotic supply chains tend to be international and complex, with many players, and have been disrupted by border closures and lockdowns. While lockdowns and increased handwashing have helped reduce other infections, “Covid has definitely thrown a big curve ball into the supply chain,” said Jayasree Iyer, the foundation’s chief executive.
She added that drugmakers have little incentive to sell their antibiotics and antifungals in poorer countries, where they face low profit margins and fragile supply chains.
However, the report concluded that a better understanding of local demand, the diversification of supply chains and long-term supply strategies via tenders (to guarantee a volume of drugs or vaccines at a specific price) should help drug manufacturers to sell older drugs in these countries.
The study highlighted several positive examples. Since 2008, France’s Sanofi has licensed local companies in Nigeria to manufacture an off-patent antibiotic called metronidazole (Flagyl), which treats gastrointestinal infections and other ailments. In 2015, Sanofi partnered with May & Baker, formerly a subsidiary of a British chemical company, which now produces 500,000 boxes of antibiotics each year for the Nigerian market.