WHO publishes list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

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​The World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of antibiotic-resistant pathogens for which new and effective antibiotics are urgently needed.

The list aims at guiding the prioritization of funding and incentives, and promoting and aligning research and development initiatives with existing public health needs.  
The pathogens have been divided in three priority categories depending on their respective need for new antibiotics to treat them: critical, high and medium. Pathogens with a critical need for new antibiotics include bacteria that have become resistant to a large number of antibiotics, including the carbapenems, a last-resort antibiotic group. Pathogens in the second and third groups include other bacteria that are increasingly becoming antibiotic-resistant and cause more common diseases such as gonorrhoea and salmonellosis.

According to the latest data from the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net), antibiotic resistance continued to increase for bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli, amongst others, in the European Union in 2015. This was also the case for common types of Salmonella in humans, as reported by ECDC and the European Food Safety Authority earlier this month.

ECDC welcomes this list, and highlights the need of increased efforts on the area of research and development of new antibiotics. Nevertheless, to address the challenge posed by antimicrobial resistance, the development of effective antibiotics needs to be supported by prudent use of existing antibiotics, both in human and veterinary medicine, as well as the implementation of proper infection prevention and control measures.