Antimicrobial resistance: a deadly issue still on the rise

As the WHO World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017 begins, Sanofi highlights how antimicrobial resistance could reverse more than 70 years of progress if efforts are not united. As a health journey partner, the company is actively engaged in the search for new therapeutic solutions for patients. This year, Sanofi is also proposing a practical response to prevent the misuse of antibiotics, with Bact’Attack a new app dedicated to children and teenagers.

Public health threat of antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasingly serious menace to global public health – likely to affect every individual, regardless of age or country – preventing the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Already, AMR kills an estimated 700,000 people worldwide each year, a number that could rise to 10 million by 2050 if the problem is left unresolved.

AMR occurs when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and antimalarials). As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spreading to others.

The problem threatens to turn back the clock of medical progress and usher in a new post-antibiotic era in which common infections and small wounds will again be fatal. This could mean that certain medical procedures, such as organ transplants, chemotherapy, diabetes management and common surgeries like caesarean sections or hip replacements could again become much more dangerous. Long-vanquished diseases like pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis and gonorrhea would require new treatment approaches.

AMR is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Global threat, united response

WHO places a high priority on the fight against antibiotic resistance. A Global Plan of Action to combat AMR, including antibiotic resistance, was approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. Then, in September rel="noopener noreferrer" 2016, the UN issued a political declaration during a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on AMR. As a follow-up, an interagency group was established by the UN secretary general to report in September 2018 on progress on AMR.

Among the responses to addressing the threat of AMR is raising the public’s consciousness of the problem and the actions needed rel="noopener noreferrer" to confront it. November 13 marks the beginning of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, held each November since 2015 under the banner, “Antibiotics: Handle with care.” The global, multi-year campaign features an increasing volume of activities throughout the week. This year, the WHO is appealing to the public to “seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.”

The campaign also highlights the efforts of all entities involved in the fight against AMR to undertake additional innovation and investment in research and development to produce new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools.

Sanofi, health journey partner in the fight against AMR

Sanofi has long been at the forefront of the effort to find new solutions to fight antibiotic resistance. Through its R&D efforts, the company is researching innovative solutions for patients to fight against the most problematic bacterial infections. Ongoing projects include screening libraries of natural products under a partnership with the Fraunhofer IME Institute in Germany. Under this initiative, a new compound has been identified. Under a partnership with GSK, Sanofi is also developing novel synthetic molecules with the goal to direct against an essential bacterial enzyme that is not targeted by current antibiotics.

Scientist looking in a microscope 

Other efforts include working to develop molecules capable of curing osteo-articular infections. In addition, Sanofi already offers several innovative solutions in the search for active natural products, improving the penetration of antibiotic molecules and targeting bacterial metabolism and biological molecules.

The company is participating actively in the search for solutions to AMR through its R&D efforts but also in partnering with leading health entities such as the Fraunhofer IME Institute, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medicine for Malaria Venture, leading French and American academic researchers and the WHO’s Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi-WHO). Sanofi also joined other leading pharmaceutical companies and the United Nations in 2016 in supporting a unified industry effort to confront the threat of AMR.

Sanofi IR app on different devices
A new app to promote education to prevent misuse of antibiotics
Download the IR app on the App Store Get the IR app on Google Play

As part of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Sanofi is proposing a practical response with Bact’Attack, a new app to educate children, teenagers and their families, about microbes, the differences between them, how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and wise use of antibiotics. The app can also be used by healthcare professionals to give advice to their patients on the proper use of antibiotics and behaviors to prevent resistance.

To date, the app is available in France. Soon in other countries.

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