Drug companies told to do more to tackle ‘superbug’ crisis

admin   •   January 24, 2018   •   4132

 

A lot more work needs to be done to ensure appropriate use of medicines

The World Health Organization (WHO) and experts consider antibiotic resistance “a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine.

“We all know that the problem of superbugs, antimicrobial resistance, is high on the international agenda,” said Access to Medicine Foundation’s Executive Director Dr. Jayasree Iyer.

Growing numbers of people are dying from “flesh-eating” microbes; from infections picked up in hospital and nursing homes; and from strains of pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and other diseases that are impervious to most drugs.

“Gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, E. Coli, salmonella, the plague, all diseases that are becoming untreatable. So companies are putting their R&D efforts in the right direction,” said Iyer.

Having new antibiotics in development was important, but so measures to encourage prudent use of existing drugs. Companies were also rated for clean manufacturing — particularly whether they discharged antibiotic-laden wastewater into rivers or lakes.

GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson are the best of the big pharmaceutical companies in tackling the growing “superbug” threat, according to an index released Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Overall, GSK led the field with 55 antimicrobial pipeline projects, including 13 vaccines.

But action taken by such companies is only the start of what could be done to address the problem, which former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill in 2014 estimated could cause 10 million deaths a year worldwide by 2050.

A lot more work needs to be done to ensure appropriate use of medicines — both new ones and the thousands of tonnes of older pills churned out each year by generic companies.

“We need more industry members, more pharmaceutical companies, to develop new antibiotics, new medicines, new vaccines to replace the ones who no longer work and find new responsible ways to produce them and get them to the patient,” said the executive director. — Reuters

 

WHO pauses hydroxychloroquine trial over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by U.S. President Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Trump said he was taking the drug to ward off the virus.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

The decision to pause the trial was done out of an abundance of caution while safety data is reviewed.

The WHO said that other arms of the so-called ‘Solidarity trial’ – a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – were continuing. (Reuters)

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day, cases near five million

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday (May 20) for the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdown.

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began, as the total number of cases world-wide approached five million.

Speaking at a news conference, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two thirds of those cases had come from just four countries.

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and favouring China. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged having received a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

In comments that could annoy Trump further, the head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told the press conference that people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine, except for conditions it is proven to treat. Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability. The WHO has announced a review into the response to the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” he said of the review, while declining to give a timeline for it starting. (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

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