Deadliest Drug-Resistant Bacteria Have Officially Been Ranked

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In the face of rising antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first ever list of the deadliest superbugs that threaten human health.

“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options,” says the WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, Marie-Paule Kieny.

The list “is not meant to scare people about new superbugs, but to signal to researchers and pharmaceutical companies what their priorities should be”, Kieny told media at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday.

According to Kieny, one of the problems with producing new antibiotics is they don’t make a lot of profit for pharmaceutical companies,which lowers the incentive to make them. While antibiotics require a huge amount in terms of research and development costs, they are only taken by patients for a short time, meaning only a small volume is sold.

One solution could be to alter how companies and research institutions are financially rewarded for developing new antibiotics, rather than just generating their profits through products sales.

The WHO list appears below:

WHO priority pathogens list for R&D of new antibiotics

Priority 1: CRITICAL

1. Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant

2. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant

3. Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing

Priority 2: HIGH

1. Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant

2. Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant

3. Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant

4. Campylobacter spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant

5. Salmonellae, fluoroquinolone-resistant

6. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Priority 3: MEDIUM

1. Streptococcus pneumoniae, penicillin-non-susceptible

2. Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant

3. Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant

The full report is available on the WHO’s website.

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