There is a serious lack of new antibiotics in the pipleine to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, according to a new report issued by WHO.

In the report, WHO officials identified 12 classes of priority pathogens, including tuberculosis, pneumonia and urinary tract infections that are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics and in need of new treatments. The report identifies 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development to treat priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens, as well as tuberculosis and Clostridium difficile. Among all these candidate medicines, however, only 8 are classed by WHO as innovative treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal.

There are very few oral antibiotics in the pipeline, yet these are essential formulations for treating infections outside hospitals or in resource-limited settings, according to the report.

"Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of extremely serious infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defence," Suzanne Hill, Director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO, said in a pres release about the report.

To counter this threat, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) set up the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (known as GARDP). On September 4, 2017, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Wellcome Trust pledged more than €56 million for this work.

New treatments alone, however, will not be sufficient to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance, according to the report's authors. WHO works with countries and partners to improve infection prevention and control and to foster appropriate use of existing and future antibiotics. WHO is also developing guidance for the responsible use of antibiotics in the human, animal and agricultural sectors.

The world is running out of antibiotics, WHO report confirms [news release]. Geneva. Accessed September 20, 2017.