A paper published in 2015 - Narrative review of primary care point-of-care testing (POCT) and antibacterial use in respiratory tract infection – discussed the frightening scope of the problem with antibiotics today:
“Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem and is being addressed through national strategies to improve diagnostics, develop new antimicrobials and promote antimicrobial stewardship.”
It’s not a surprise that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - the ability of a microbe to withstand drugs previously used against them - is an issue fast reaching crisis proportions. Resistant microbes are difficult to treat – especially with few new drugs in the arsenal….or in pharma’s pipeline. In fact, the World Health Organization had pointed out the challenges back in 2014:
"This serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance is now a major threat to public health."
According to the CDC, every year more than 2 million Americans become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria – resulting in at least 23,000 deaths. The problem is global: the UK government estimates that more than 25,000 deaths occur in the EU every year due to drug resistant infections.
It’s a crisis being driven by two principal developments (or lack thereof):
- Over-prescribing antibiotics
- The scarcity of new classes of antibiotic drugs
Trade Association Engagement
The UK Department of Health’s Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy calls on industry and trade associations to contribute to the work of tackling AMR. In keeping with this, BIVDA (British In vitro Diagnostics Association) has established an AMR working party which meets quarterly and includes representatives from more than 40 different IVD companies. Sekisui Diagnostics is one of the participating companies.
A July 2016 paper in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, “A Feasibility Service Evaluation of Screening and Treatment of Group A Streptococcal Pharyngitis in Community Pharmacies,”concluded:
“it is feasible to deliver a community pharmacy-based screening and treatment service using point-of-care testing, and that this type of service has the potential to support the antimicrobial resistance agenda.”
To drive this idea forward, Sekisui Diagnostics’ distribution partner in the U.K. - Una Health – in collaboration with pharmacy sector consultants Connect-2-Pharma have engaged in a variety of awareness campaigns. These campaigns aim to create awareness among the community pharmacy segment, and drive adoption of Rapid Testing using OSOM rapid tests (principally for Strep-A, and Influenza) within the community pharmacy setting.
The Diagnostic Solution – Promoting “Less is More”
Diagnostics are a critical counterpart to ongoing drug R&D, which alone will not be able to eradicate AMR.
Point-of-care testing is one of the most powerful tools available today in the fight against AMR. Every single use, rapid, disposable test can enable better decision-making at the point-of-prescription, and prevent the unnecessary or erroneous use of an antibiotic.