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New report calls for new rapid diagnostics to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics and tackle superbugs

New report calls for new rapid diagnostics to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics and tackle superbugs

In a report published 23 October 2015, Jim O’Neill’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance sets out proposals to transform antibiotic use through better use of rapid diagnostics over the next 5 years.

"For far too long we haven’t recognised the huge cost to society of increasing resistance when we use antibiotics that we don’t need – such as antibiotics for flu which have no effect except to increase the chances of superbugs developing.

To avoid the tragedy of 10 million people dying every year by 2050, the world needs rapid diagnostics to improve our use of antibiotics. They are essential to get patients the right treatment, cut down on the huge amount of unnecessary use, and make our drugs last for longer.”

Lord Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the Review on AMR

The report sets out the scale of the problem, taking the example of a modern health system such as that in the United States. Looking at adult patients visiting the doctor to treat respiratory problems, a study found that more than two-thirds of courses of antibiotics were likely to have been inappropriately prescribed for conditions that were not infections at all, or infections caused by viruses – for which an antibiotic would do nothing. That amounts to 27 million courses of antibiotics wasted a year in just one set of indications, in the United States alone.

The Review on AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) also explains why healthcare systems are not embracing the use of rapid diagnostics that exist today and why investment in new and better ones is lagging. It is cheaper and quicker for individuals to go straight to using an antibiotic, ‘just in case’ it is effective, without checking with a diagnostic test. Yet the immense benefits to society of using rapid tests to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics are not captured by each of our individual decisions to use an antibiotic.

The Review will spend the coming months engaging with governments, NGOs and industry globally to discuss and develop these proposals further, with input from an international advisory group. A detailed final package of actions will be available in late Spring 2016 covering the whole AMR landscape.

View the report at

Debra Moore, Marketing Manager for Infectious Disease Western Europe at Alere, said:

“It is great news that the O’Neill review team recognise the role of rapid point of care diagnostics in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the need for their widespread adoption. Rapid diagnostics in the form of C-reactive protein (CRP) point of care testing are already available to help healthcare professionals determine if a patient needs antibiotics for a respiratory tract infection (RTI). In fact, evidence suggests that CRP point of care testing reduces antibiotic prescribing for RTIs in primary care by up to 42% and could save the NHS £56 million a year in prescription and dispensing costs alone.”

Explore to learn more about rapid diagnostic solutions from Alere.

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