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Coalition calls for testing to tackle threat of antimicrobial resistance

A new coalition of industry and health charities have raised the alarm over missed opportunities to tackle the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the UK.

Led by the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) and former Health Minister, Maggie Throup MP, who was responsible for the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine, the coalition is highlighting missed opportunities to use proven diagnostic technology that can help to reduce the prescribing of antibiotics when they are not needed.

Deaths in the UK related to AMR are estimated to stand at 12,000 per year – the equivalent of deaths from breast cancer each year, and more deaths than from suicide (approx. 6,500). Ten million people each year are predicted to die globally from AMR by 2050 unless urgent measures are taken.

Unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are a significant factor in causing AMR.
Whilst there are simple point-of-care tests that can be used to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, these tests are not routinely funded in community and primary care settings.

The cross-sector statement urges action in the short, medium and long term to ensure that health systems prioritise funding and adoption of point-of-care testing.

Helen Dent, Chief Executive of BIVDA, said: “It has been almost 8 years since the O’Neill Review made its findings on using rapid diagnostics to tackle AMR and very little progress has been made since then. It’s imperative that we use everything at our disposal to tackle AMR – and that must start with the technologies that are available right now to help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing. COVID-19 gave a blueprint for rapid action – it shows there is no excuse for the long delays in implementing recommendations that can help slow the progress of AMR.”

Supporting the coalition, former Minister for Vaccines and Public Health, Maggie Throup MP said: “I am deeply concerned about the slow progress that has been made to support the use of point of care tests as part of the UK’s antimicrobial stewardship efforts. AMR is a tremendous threat, and it is critical that we don’t miss opportunities to slow the progress of resistance. That is why we are calling on the government to prioritise the effective adoption of point of care testing in community and primary care settings. The pandemic underlined that the government and health system can move quickly to roll-out diagnostics and respond to major health threats – we must act now, with the same urgency, to tackle the problem of AMR.”

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Joanna Harvey
Joanna Harvey
Marketing and Communication Executive | Uniphar Commercial

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