The NHS advocates for the expansion of drug contracts to develop new antibiotics 

July 20, 2023

The National Health Service has recently announced the emergence of a plan that will explore and expand drug contracts to treat infections with developed antibiotics. The public health service is known for campaigns and initiatives to improve the medical system, such as the Act FAST movement that would spread awareness on dealing with stroke and its signs to act immediately and treat the issue. The NHS also conducts research frequently to get insight into health conditions, diseases, and disabilities.

Lately, the institution has focused on drug-resistant superbugs, which are common now, considering that the overuse of antibiotics led to people’s bodies developing a higher level of resistance to medication. Therefore, sore throats and infections of the chest and ears cannot be treated with antibiotics anymore, which means new remedies must be found as soon as possible.

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are becoming stronger, and medication is less effective. Here’s what the NHS plans to do.

The pilot project that NHS plans on building

Antimicrobial drugs are the world’s best solution for preventing and treating human infection, but they’re also used in animals and plants. Penicillin is one of the most common and treats many conditions, such as meningitis or syphilis.

Recently, it has been observed that these medicines were used inappropriately or excessively, leading to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The reason why this happened is because patients were taking such medication for treating sore throats or coughs. Thus, the effects of antibiotics aren’t efficient anymore, so further investigation and testing must be done to tackle the problem.

With enough research into the pharma sector and information gathered from patients, nurses, and lab techs, the NHS plans to deliver a program within the industry to develop better antibiotics that would be prescribed to people who urgently need treatment. At the same time, this approach is required to build resilience within the population and provide a fast response to superbugs.

The project is necessary considering that the number of antibiotic-resistant infections is increasing quickly but has slowed down, approximated to the rising before the pandemic. In 2021, 2.2% more conditions were recorded compared to 2020. The real problem stands in medication availability to those who need it. A considerable number of patients with serious forms of AMR don’t have access to proper treatment, and this is due to factors like regional divergence of deprivation, which are social issues that need to be better handled by the government.

But why is AMR this bad?

Bacterial infections reproduce rapidly in people’s bodies, so antibiotics are needed because they provide fast and steady results before the infections worsen. However, as medication becomes inefficient, infections can damage the tissue and lead to sickness and even fatal outcomes.

Patients that have been found to have an antibiotic-resistant infection are in danger of prolonged sickness, complex medical care and more chances of spreading illness to those around them. At the same time, costly treatments are required to tackle this issue, but it might also be more difficult for medical staff to treat the infection.

There’s a point where regular antibiotics cannot treat infection because the body has already gotten used to them, which is lethal to the human body. Thus, antibiotic use must be reduced when the medical case doesn’t require it, but patients need awareness.

AMR is reversible, but people need to learn to protect themselves

There are a few ways humans can reduce the chances of getting an infection and therefore minimize their antibiotic use. Some of the easiest ways to do so include the following:

  • Washing hands regularly and keep up on all vaccination;
  • Cooking food properly by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables to prevent food-borne infections;
  • Understanding the difference between bacteria and viruses ―they require different treatments;
  • Looking for multiple ways to relieve symptoms of viruses and other illnesses other than bacteria;
  • Following instructions provided by healthcare providers and professionals;

Although good hygiene is paramount for protecting the body’s resistance, it’s also important to follow medical advice when provided. It’s easy for people to be guided by personal opinions or family experiences, but sometimes they don’t accept prescribed medication because they lack finances or knowledge. Some patients wish to try natural alternatives and don’t believe in reliance on the medical system, a practice that may worsen one’s medical condition.

AMR is not the only rising issue after the pandemic

Increased drug resistance isn’t the only alarming issue that spurred after the pandemic. Three other infections are seeing considerable expansion triggered by people’s low immunity and the sudden flow of people back to their normal lives through which infectious diseases were easily developed.

One of these health problems is Strep A. The bacteria live inside the throat and skin, leading to fever or throat infections. While adults are also experiencing it, kids are more at risk of developing it. Some signs of Strep A in children include difficulty walking, decreased urination, or high-pitched crying.

RSV is also on the rise. The respiratory disease targets the respiratory tract and the lungs in children and adults with pre-existing conditions. Professionals stated that kids are the ones to experience the most due to a lack of exposure to easy infections during lockdowns. They directly developed RSV because their bodies weren’t prepared to face serious conditions.

Finally, influenza is again among people, a virus known to have started the 1968 pandemic. The flu lives in the respiratory tract, leading to fever, chills, and weakness. While influenza is the subject of frequent seasonal epidemics, a burst of cases would lead to another pandemic.

Final considerations

As antimicrobial resistance is rising and affects many people, the NHS is taking the matter into its own hands by developing a plan to create newer and stronger antibiotics for the human body to process and fight infections more efficiently.

About the Author Elle Gellrich

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