TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Jun18/03)
12 June 2018
Third World Network

Antibiotic resistance crisis worsens due to fragile global supply

Dear friends and colleagues,

There is an emerging crisis in the global antibiotic supply chain that is at risk of collapsing.

A white paper released on 31st May 2018 by the Dutch non-profit Access to Medicine Foundation says that shortages of antibiotics on a global and national level can lead to patients in need of antibiotics being treated with lower quality drugs that do not cure their infections and increase the risk of resistance.

‘Less effective or more toxic treatment alternatives can contribute to AMR (antimicrobial resistance) because every time we use an antibiotic, we give bacteria the chance to adapt and develop resistance,’ said the authors. ‘To reduce the threat of AMR, doctors must ensure that the right antibiotic is used against the right organism’.

Among the shortages highlighted is the common antibiotic benzathine penicillin G (BPG) which was found to be unavailable in 39 countries out of 114 countries in 2015, including India, Australia and the US. BPG is the only drug that can prevent and treat the transmission of syphilis from mother to child. The shortage coincided with the growing rise of syphilis in Brazil that has led to a doubling of babies born with congenital syphilis.

Factors causing global antibiotic shortages include low profits, the risk and expense involved in developing new antibiotics, with new antibiotics rarely used for fear of resistance developing. Indeed, companies have left the market completely.

For further details, please access the white paper titled ‘Shortages, stockouts and scarcity: the issues facing the security of antibiotic supply and the role for pharmaceutical companies’ at the link given here:

With best wishes,
Third World Network