Tuesday, May 26, 2020
One thing that we know for sure is that the “you use it, you lose it” law of antimicrobial resistance rules. This means that the use of antibiotics, whether appropriate or not, will select for the emergence of resistant pathogens. Therefore, we can expect an increase in bacterial resistance in our hospitals – globally. The CDC recently reported that there about 3 million antibiotic resistant infections occurred every year in the US resulting in 48,000 deaths. Several years ago, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (I call it the O’Neill Commission since it was led by Jim O’Neill ex of Goldman-Sachs) estimated that there were 700,000 deaths worldwide annually due to resistant infections. They predicted that given the trajectory of resistance, by 2050, 10 million lives will be at risk annually along with a $100 trillion-dollar loss to world GDP. No one imagined, I guess, that this might be accelerated by a global pandemic – but here we are.
This unexpected acceleration of resistance will occur at a time when our 95% of our completely inadequate new antibiotic pipeline is supported by small and fragile biotechs. Will it occur during a time when we have learned at least one key lesson from covid-19 – to invest in our future health? Will we finally realize that we have to support the antibiotic marketplace to prevent further bankruptcies of antibiotic biotechs? Will we find a way to encourage investment in our antibiotic pipeline again? Or will we ignore the counsel of untold experts and just wait for the next disaster to strike?