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expert reaction to O’Neill report on antimicrobial resistance

The final report from a group chaired by Jim O’Neill which explores global solutions to drug resistance has been published alongside a set of recommendations.


Dr William Gaze, Associate Professor at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, said:

“AMR is an ancient phenomenon as antimicrobials and resistance have evolved over millions or even billions of years. Resistance genes present in environmental bacteria have spread to human pathogens, and environmental pollution including human and animal waste is likely to play a role in the emergence of novel AMR in the clinic.  The UK research councils led by NERC are currently funding £2.7 million of research into the Environmental Dimension of AMR, awarded to a research consortium including Professor Elizabeth Wellington (University of Warwick), Dr William Gaze (University of Exeter) and Dr Andrew Singer (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)”.


Prof. Steve Busby, Chair of the Biochemical Society Executive Committee, said:

“We welcome Lord O’Neill’s report, which makes a number of recommendations on how this wide-reaching global problem can be tackled. Molecular bioscience research has much to contribute and sustained support and commitment is essential to achieving solutions. We welcome the financial support structures that are being proposed, such as the Global Innovation Fund, diagnostic market stimulus and market entry rewards. These will support early stage research to develop new antibiotics, find new targets and pioneer rapid diagnostics. The Biochemical Society, along with other societies, is helping to tackle this issue through the ‘Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance’, through which we focus on championing best practice and raising awareness of this global challenge.”


Dr David Burch, a veterinarian with the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, said:

“We welcome the final report from the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, which has a global focus across both human and animal medicine. We recognise the report’s ambition to develop long-term targets for agricultural use, so while we remain cautious that inappropriate targets can be counterproductive and even lead to increased risk of resistance if improperly applied, we are delighted to announce RUMA will be setting up a ‘task force’ to look at identifying evidence-based goals for the UK industry. I’m pleased to say that we have already seen considerable progress in recent months – such as the British Poultry Council’s excellent report and the launch of an online medicine book and stewardship programme to improve pig usage data already collected through the Red Tractor scheme, which has been in place since October 2014. Finally, we must be wary of drawing direct comparisons with other countries. For example, in reducing antibiotic usage by nearly 60% the Netherlands is now at approximately the same level of use as the UK, and the Danish government has invested heavily to allow its pig farmers to build new high-health premises. It is hoped that the UK will also invest in its pig industry to enable improvements.”


Prof. Neil Gow, President of the Microbiology Society, said:

“Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that requires global solutions. Governments need to heed the recommendations in this report and to act immediately with sustained, apolitical funding if we are to prevent the millions of deaths it estimates. We need to invest now if we are to avoid paying the price later.

“Short-term, focused funding calls, such as the Global Innovation Fund, have a role in tackling this issue but these need to be coupled with long-term support to provide promising researchers with the financial opportunities they need to invest their career in the field.”


Prof. Mark Woolhouse OBE FRSE FMedSci, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“As the O’Neill report rightly states, the world urgently needs to address the fast growing use of antibiotics in food production. But, by itself, this won’t be enough. At the same time we must tackle the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in human medicine, without compromising access for those who need treatment. The antimicrobial resistance crisis transcends human and animal health and needs to be met by effective and coordinated action in both sectors.”


‘Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations’ chaired by Jim O’Neill published on Thursday 19th May. 


Declared interests

None declared

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