AMR – a global public health emergency
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasingly serious threat to global public health. According to an ECDC study from 2018, about 33,000 people die each year as a direct consequence of an infection due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics in Europe alone. Although there are no exact figures that capture the true burden of AMR, it is estimated to cause over 700,000 deaths annually worldwide, and a new UN report warned that if no action is taken, drug-resistant diseases could cause as many as 10 million deaths per year by 2050. Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is estimated to cause a third of deaths due to AMR worldwide. About one-quarter of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, and people with compromised immune systems are at highest risk for developing active TB disease. The lack of efficiency of current TB drugs is emphasised by the nearly 1.5 million annual deaths reported by the WHO. There are significant scientific challenges to the discovery and development of new agents to treat and prevent AMR infections, including those caused by Gram-negative bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and non-tuberculous mycobacteria.