This week is “World Antimicrobial Awareness Week”. Under the slogan “Antimicrobials: Handle with Care”, the annual campaign aims to highlight our dependence on antimicrobial medicines, and to warn of the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The headline statistics released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as part of the campaign remind us of that, rather than being a problem for tomorrow, the impacts of AMR are already being felt today. According to the WHO, nearly 5 million global deaths in 2019 were linked to bacterial AMR, with over 1 million of those deaths being directly attributable to bacterial AMR. As AMR becomes more widespread, deaths caused by resistant pathogens will become an increasingly routine feature of the medical landscape. The effects will also be economic. According to one of the WHO's modelling scenarios, AMR is predicted to reduce global annual GDP by 3.8 percent by 2050.

What, then, can be done to combat the rise of AMR?

This year, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is focussing on actions we can take to prolong the efficacy of our existing antimicrobial arsenal. This includes tackling the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, as well as improving infection control and sanitation to reduce our reliance on antimicrobial treatments in the first place.

However, at Marks & Clerk, we are particularly interested in how innovation might turn the tide against resistant pathogens, including through the development of new antimicrobial medicines and therapies. Earlier this year, we wrote for Life Sciences IP Review about the challenges facing antimicrobial innovators. We also considered how intellectual property policies can reduce these barriers and incentivise innovation against the AMR threat.

You can read our piece for Life Sciences IP Review by following this link:

We look forward to seeing how much progress individuals, innovators, and institutions can make against AMR ahead of next year's World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, we hope with an increasing sense of urgency.

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