Pharmaceutical Industry Urged to Fight Drug Resistance

June 17, 2010
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

The world is rapidly losing its ability to treat malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis, as well as more common diseases such as dysentery and respiratory infections because of drug resistance, according to a report from the Center for Global Development (CGD).

The world is rapidly losing its ability to treat malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis, as well as more common diseases such as dysentery and respiratory infections because of drug resistance, according to a report from the Center for Global Development (CGD).

Drug resistance is a natural occurrence, but the report claims it is being accelerated by careless practices in medicine supplies. The issue is particularly prominent in developing countries, but developed areas are also experiencing increasing instances of drug resistance; for example, in the US, the occurrence of drug resistant ‘superbugs’ increased from approximately 2% to more than 50% between 1974 and 2004.

“Over the past decade, the global community has responded to the rise in drug-resistant organisms with a number of disease- or country-specific initiatives,” Rachel Nugent, chair of the working group that prepared the report, explained in a press statement. “Some have been more successful than others, but none have addressed the problem on a global scale and across diseases. The situation demands a more extensive and systematic global response.”

According to the report, the common drivers of drug resistance across diseases are a mix of technology gaps, behavior that leads to inappropriate use of medicines, weak health systems, poor drug quality, and excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture. Because so many different factors are involved, the report says collective action will be required, and is urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to take the lead in getting other stakeholders involved, including, among others, pharmaceutical companies, national governments, hospitals, and healthcare providers.

The report includes a variety of recommendations for different stakeholders. In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, the report says that drug companies must help ensure that products are safe and effective even after they are sold. As such, it recommends that voluntary standards be set to maintain the quality of products from manufacturing to the end-user. Additionally, global and national partnership of medicine providers is needed to promote best practices in drug prescribing and dispensing.