Antibiotic stewardship crucial in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance
By: Cosmo Rana-Iozzi
Last updated: Thursday, 24 November 2022
On World Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Week, marked by the World Health Organization (WHO) until this Thursday 24 November, Professor Chirantan Chatterjee, Reader in Economics of Innovation in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at University of Sussex Business School, reiterates the importance of rational antibiotic stewardship in preventing global AMR and its threat to public health. Reporting on their recent paper published in Research Policy, Chatterjee and fellow authors Anindya Chakrabarti (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad) and Matthew J. Higgins (University of Utah) praised the WHO for prioritising the idea of stewardship in its efforts. They point out that the impact of Covid-19 would likely have only added to the estimated $1 trillion of AMR-related healthcare costs and 1.27 million AMR-related deaths in 2019.
Examining the impact of The Lancet-reported NDM1-superbug crises in India in 2010, the researchers found concerning antibiotic market trends in the country that went against rational stewardship principles. While news of the antimicrobial resistant superbug caused multinational pharmaceutical companies to gradually withdraw their product from the Indian market, domestic Indian firms and clinicians switched to local suppliers who filled the void in the market left by the multinationals. Irrational prescriptions of carbapenems, the most advanced antibiotic in the world today, therefore continued amidst the outbreak of a carbapenem-resistant disease. The researchers conclude that there is an urgent need for more science-based monitoring of outbreaks, greater stewardship in the supply and prescription of antibiotics, and a serious global effort to restore the incentive for antibiotic innovation by a wider range of stakeholders including business, entrepreneurs and healthcare providers.
This follows on similar findings from University of Sussex colleagues working on the CHNUK Project (‘Integrated platforms from science to policy in response to antibacterial resistance’), in their policy evidence brief which recommended that “the UK needs a more coordinated approach to managing research and development (R&D) and innovation for new antibacterials”.
Alongside the publication of this research, WHO AMR Week was also marked at Brighton and Sussex Medical School with the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Marginalisation and the Microbe’ workshop taking place on 22-23 November looking at the response to AMR and social inequality.