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There is a serious lack of new antibiotic development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.

Most of the drugs currently in the clinical pipeline are only short-term solutions, the report, Antibacterial agents in clinical development- an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis, said.

The report found few potential treatment options for those antibiotic resistant infections that were the greatest threat to health, including drug resistance tuberculosis, which kills around 250,000 people each year.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardise progress in modern medicine,” said Director General of WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infection and risked their lives from minor surgery.”

In addition to multidrug-resistant pathogens, WHO has identified 12 classes of priority pathogens. Some of them could cause common infections such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections and are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics.

“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,” said WHO’S Director of the Department of Essential Medicines Dr Suzanne Hill.

According to WHO new treatments alone will not be sufficient to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance. Responsible use of antibiotics in their human, animal and agricultural sectors as well as improved infection prevention is also required.