Antimicrobial resistance should be a ‘top five policy priority’

Combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) should be a ‘top five policy priority’ for the UK government, according to a new report by the UK’s Health & Social Care Select Committee.

The report urges “visible and active Government leadership”, calling on the UK’s Prime Minister to work with ministers to raise the profile of AMR both in the UK and internationally. In addition, the Committee calls for AMR to be established as a ‘top five policy priority’ for the Government, with a dedicated budget to be made available to ensure rapid progress.

The lack of news antibiotics is highlighted in the report, along with issues surrounding prescription rates – prescribing levels in the UK are approximately double those of Sweden, the Netherlands and the Baltic states.

The Committee calls several actions on AMR, for example, for investment in basic science and from pharmaceutical companies, and for the implementation digital health tools to help reduce the impact of AMR. The key conclusions and recommendations are as follows:

  • Priority and political leadership: more visible and active leadership; establishing AMR as a policy priority and raising its profile
  • Pharmaceutical market failure: investment from Government and industry; implementation of actions to address market failure e.g. ‘play or pay’ proposals
  • Antimicrobial use in healthcare: more targets for primary healthcare; rapid review of secondary care prescribing; development of evidence-based guidelines on antimicrobial prescribing; implementing digital health tools; developing rapid diagnostic tests
  • Antimicrobial use in animals: ensure current progress is embedded and extended; make a commitment on imported meat and dairy products with regards to standards for antibiotic use
  • Antimicrobials and the environment: have a greater focus on environmental contamination and global coordination; make commitments to establish safe discharge levels from industry, human and agricultural waste

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Committee commented: “In 6 months we want to see tangible progress on implementing practical policies to reverse the worrying exodus from AMR research and development and both government and industry should play their part in tackling this issue.”

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