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India Inc India Inc: Tuesday, 02 February 2016 13:17

Antibiotic resistance a crucial UK-India frontier

Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) is an important area of collaboration for India and the UK to counter this worldwide crisis that poses a major economic challenge. Unless anti-resistance measures are put in place, developing economies like India will be stuck a medical bill that the global economy can ill afford.

Growing resistance to antibiotics is a serious public health crisis with countries like India among the most vulnerable, with easy availability and higher consumption of medicines exacerbating the situation.

Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) was among the highlight issues discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK last November and then went on to form part of the joint statement issued by Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley and UK Chancellor George Osborne last month following their 8th UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue.

“Building on the recent agreement reached by our two Prime Ministers, we reaffirm our commitment to collaborating on finding a multilateral solution to tackle the global economic threat posed by Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), working through Un General Assembly and the G20,” they concluded.

In an exclusive article for India Inc., Prof Anthony Coates of Helberby Therapeutics describes this as an “impending catastrophe” which if remained unchecked has the potential to lower annual GDP by 2 per cent by 2050 at a global cost of $100 trillion.

India has taken a series of steps and formulated a national policy on this crisis. In the last decade, a large number of new initiatives have been launched by various agencies to contain this problem, including the Indian Clinical Epidemiology Network, the Indian Initiative for Management of Antibiotic Resistance – launched with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) by a consortium of NGOs to promote prudent use of antimicrobials, and the Indian Network for Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance – a network of 20 laboratories in the private as well as public sector across the country to generate quality data on AMR.

But this latest effort at finding collaborations with the UK on the issue will undoubtedly yield results.

“The skills of UK and India are complementary in a number of areas. For example India is particularly strong in the synthesis and formulation of generic antibiotics. The UK has universities and biotechs which are already discovering and developing novel antibiotics. India has a relatively high incidence of highly resistant gram-negative bacterial infections. These bacteria should be collected and made available to both British and Indian scientists in academia, institutions and industry. International clinical trials in high incidence countries such as India should be facilitated at the regulatory and political levels,” says Prof Anthony Coates.

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