Government promises new steps to deal with antimicrobial resistance

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 18 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5689
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

A new action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance is expected later this autumn from the government, which has claimed to view the issue as deadly serious.

In a report published in July,1 MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee criticised the government for not taking sufficiently urgent action to deal with the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. At that time, they welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement2 of a two year review of the economics of antimicrobial research, but they said that this tackled only one aspect of the problem and was not an example of the “decisive and urgent action” needed.

MPs said that current practice across health services did not prevent inappropriate prescription of antibiotics and that better education of medical students was needed, as was a greater focus on antimicrobial resistance during clinical career development. Responsibility for the UK strategy on antimicrobial resistance and the imminent action plan had been given to a high level steering group, which was accountable to ministers and had considered the MPs’ conclusions and recommendations.

The Department of Health published its official response3 to the MPs’ report on 12 September, which said, “We welcome the committee’s report, which identifies a number of areas where further action is required to build on the call for action to address human and environmental aspects of antimicrobial resistance set out in [last year’s] UK antimicrobial resistance strategy. The report is particularly timely and will contribute to the work being carried out to develop an action plan, which will be published in November 2014.”

The department’s response also contained more detail on what would be involved in the independent review commissioned by Cameron, which is to be carried out by the economist Jim O’Neill. The review will look at a range of issues associated with the development, use, and regulation of antibiotics and will consult a wide range of international stakeholders including foreign governments, academia, non-governmental organisations, and the biopharmaceutical industry.

The department added that it would aim to improve surveillance data and build an international consensus on stimulating the antibiotics market. Progress was also being made in improving the quality of available data to better measure antibiotic use and resistance trends across the health sector, the response noted.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5689


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