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Lack of diagnostic testing for bacterial infections is ‘alarming’, warns AMR review chair

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The UK needs to do more to use diagnostic testing in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the chair of a government-commissioned review on AMR told MPs.

Lord O’Neill, an economist and former treasury minister, warned in the review’s final report in 2016 that a continued rise in AMR would lead to 10 million people dying each year by 2050 and made ten recommendations, including the need for rapid diagnostics to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials.

Speaking to a Commons Science and Technology Committee evidence session on 22 June 2022, Lord O’Neill said that while he was pleased with progress on some of the recommendations published in his review in 2016, especially in the reduction of antimicrobials in agriculture, progress on diagnostics was “woeful”.

He said it was “alarming to me how we are not embedding state-of-the-art diagnostic technology right in the middle of our health systems”, adding that it could “really make a huge difference about whether an antibiotic is needed or not, and the right kind of antibiotic”.

“Our most aggressive recommendation was that we should ban the use of subjective prescriptions in secondary settings, at least in Western countries, until they’ve gone through a state-of-the-art diagnostics,” he continued.

“And nobody’s done it; they claim it’s a vicious circle, the technology isn’t there, but we have to give incentives in order to get this embedded because that would make a permanent difference.”

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Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal, 24 June 2022

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