Access to antibiotics is on the ‘brink of collapse’, a health think tank has warned.

Research published by non-profit organisation the Access to Medicine Foundation showed that the current state of the global antibiotics supply chains is ‘putting basic healthcare at risk’.

The report comes after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced last month its commitment to invest £30m to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR).


‘Doesn’t work well enough’


Access to Medicine Foundation executive director Jayasree Iyer said that antibiotic shortages are occurring because the antibiotics market ‘just doesn’t work well enough’.

She continued: ‘Pharma companies need to be incentivised to keep producing antibiotics. There is definitely no easy fix, but without a global push to address the systemic causes, we risk being unable to treat common infections, such as contaminated food or simple wounds.

‘The global health community ‘including the pharmaceutical industry’ has experience in getting medicines to people who need them, for example for vaccines and HIV/AIDS medicines.

‘What is critically needed now is to puzzle out how this knowledge can be used to secure antibiotic supply, especially in low- and middle-income countries where the need for antibiotics is simply staggering.’

According to the report, the causes of shortages include the lack of competitors in the supply chain, an unstable financial model with tough market and regulatory conditions and fewer companies producing the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), the main ingredient of a drug.


More incentives needed


Commenting on the report, the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) technical director Paul Fleming said: ‘As stated in the report, more incentives for industry to invest in R&D for new classes of antibiotics are needed.

‘This also applies to existing generic antibiotics, where a more attractive economic environment, less focused on driving down medicine costs through tendering, would encourage new entrants and help to retain existing manufacturers.

‘This would make supply chains more robust with alternative supply options and also protect affordability by the competition between producers.’