Drug companies told to do more to tackle ‘superbug’ crisis
admin • January 24, 2018 • 3959
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
MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday expressed concern over the re-emergence of poliovirus in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free.
The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced an outbreak on polio after a case was confirmed in a 3-year old girl from Lanao del Sur. Environmental samples from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao also tested positive for the poliovirus.
“We are very concerned that polioviruses are now circulating in Manila, Davao, and Lanao del Sur,” WHO Representative in the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a joint statement with UNICEF.
“It is deeply disconcerting that poliovirus has re-emerged in the Philippines after nearly two decades. The outbreak calls for urgent action to protect more children from being infected,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyun Dendevnorov said.
The agencies said the polio outbreak in the Philippines is confirmed to be from a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.
This is of particular concern, as wild poliovirus type 2 was certified as globally eradicated in 2015, they added.
Polio mainly affects children under five years of age and vaccination is their only and best protection against the highly infectious disease.
But if immunization activities are poorly conducted and too few children have received the required three doses of polio vaccine, the agencies said this can leave them “susceptible to poliovirus, either from vaccine-derived or wild polioviruses.”
“Full immunization protects them from both forms of the virus.”
“It reminds us of the importance of increasing immunization coverage to 95% of children to stop polio virus transmission in the Philippines… As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio,” Dendevnorov said.
Prior to the declaration of the outbreak, the DOH and its partners launched a polio immunization campaign in the City of Manila. Further mass polio immunization rounds will be rolled out from October 2019.
The WHO and UNICEF both vowed to work closely with the DOH to strengthen surveillance and swiftly respond to the outbreak.
They also echoed the DOH’s call for parents and guardians, especially in affected areas, to have their children vaccinated for their protection against diseases.
“We urge all parents and caregivers of children under 5 years of age to have them vaccinated so that they are protected against polio for life.”
The WHO and UNICEF assured the oral polio vaccine (OPV) is a safe and effective vaccine that has saved millions of lives since its introduction in 1988.
The agencies explained that when a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened virus contained in the vaccine replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies.
If a population is not sufficiently immunized, the weakened virus can continue to circulate. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more changes it undergoes.
“In rare instances, the virus can change to a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV), a form that has regained the ability to cause paralysis,” they said.
The WHO and UNICEF likewise called on local governments to help ensure that immunization campaigns are planned and implemented effectively.
They also reminded families to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, use a toilet, consume food that is fully cooked, and drink safe water.
The two agencies are among the partner-organizations under the Global Polio Eradication initiative (GPEI) supporting the Philippine government’s response by providing technical advice and on-the-ground monitoring and risk communication.
The GPEI is a public-private partnership led by national governments with the WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (August 22).
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns, but the limited data appears reassuring the U.N. agency said in its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
It added however that the current and available studies on the toxicity of plastic parts are limited, and also have not used standardized methods enabling scientists to have reproducible and comparable metrics, and that more studies are needed to be more conclusive on certain of the issues.
Microplastics pose three threats, a physical one, a chemical and the third is about bacterial colonization.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while the vast majority of smaller ones are likely to be excreted too, there still remains concern. WHO technical experts reported that more research needs to be conducted to know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts.
The chemical hazard, experts have looked at the concentrations found in marine microplastics and chose a worst-case scenario saying we would ingest the highest possible concentrations. According to WHO, whatever the chemical, the exposure level was a lot safer than any threshold of risks.
Bacterial colonization, health experts say there are so many particles in the environment bacteria might adhere to, that microplastics would make a negligible contribution to any microbioflora that would be released and pose a risk.
For this report, however, despite the flaws, they say they worked with worst-case scenarios and are confident that the risk would remain low should some data change.
The WHO recommended for consumers to keep on consuming tap or bottled water, provided it is correctly treated, and didn’t recommend for any regulations to be put in place. It also called for more studies, investigating the potential cumulative effects of the ingestion of microplastics present in food, air, water.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens —including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrhoeal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June.
That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish. (Reuters)
The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday maintained that Dengavaxia is not the answer to the problem of the high incidence of dengue in the country.
DOH spokesperson and Officer in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Usec. Eric Domingo explained that dengue is not like any other disease where vaccination is the only solution.
He stressed that Dengvaxia is still not a registered drug in the country and its efficacy is not yet fully proven.
“This vaccine is not for an outbreak response. It’s designed for future use sa mga taong nagka- dengue na dati [for people who have had dengue before],” Domingo said.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report showed that “Dengvaxia was first licensed in Mexico in December 2015 for use in individuals 9-45 years of age living in endemic areas, and is now licensed in 20 countries.”
It was then used in 11 countries in 2016, including the Philippines.
But it was only in September 2018 that the WHO recommended that Dengvaxia be only administered to children who were previously infected with dengue, adding that it is dangerous for those who have not yet gotten the disease.
This caused among the public, as well as, experts as the Philippines is the only country who had used Dengvaxia vaccination on a wider scope, with more than 800,000 children inoculated.
The DOH maintained that there is still no concrete study to date that claimed that children who are vaccinated with Dengvaxia will never be infected with dengue.
“It’s very difficult because you’re tested and then you’re positive but you’re actually false positive. Then if you give the Dengvaxia, who knows that the severe dengue reaction will not occur in a particular individual. So, there’s a risk, in other words,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said. (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf
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