WHO Prioritizes Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria on Pathogens List

Global health
Global health
The World Health Organization has developed a global priority list of pathogens for the research and development of new antibiotics.

To prioritize the research and development of new and effective antibiotic treatments, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a list of global priority pathogens.

A multicriteria decision analysis technique was applied to develop the priority pathogens list, incorporating both expert opinion and evidence-based data. The following 10 criteria were selected:

  1. All-cause mortality
  2. Healthcare burden
  3. Community burden
  4. Prevalence of resistance
  5. 10-year trend of resistance
  6. Transmissibility
  7. Preventability in hospital settings
  8. Preventability in community settings
  9. Treatability
  10. Current pipeline

Data were stratified by the 6 WHO regions whenever possible, and obtained from the sources listed below. The search stopped on September 30, 2016.

  • Databases of European-financed projects being investigated by the research group on Infectious Diseases, Tübingen University
  • Systematic reviews of published literature
  • 23 national and international surveillance systems of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • International guidelines focusing on the treatment and prevention of infections resulting from antibiotic-resistant bacteria

A group of 70 experts with different backgrounds were involved in the criteria weighting process. The weights of the criteria were derived by 1000Minds software. The ranking of the pathogens was reviewed and finalized by 8 experts not previously involved in the process at a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2017.

Pathogens were grouped by species and type of antibiotic resistance and stratified into 3 priority tiers: critical, high, and medium (Table).

Table. Global Pathogens Priority List for Research and Development of New Antibiotics

Development of new antibiotics for the pediatric population, as well as oral formulations for community diseases with a high morbidity burden, was stressed by the panel. In addition, the panel supported the development of new classes of antibiotics without cross- and co-resistance to existing classes.

Limitations included lack of high-quality data for community-acquired infections and from low-income countries. The panel also underlined “the lack of surveillance data on livestock and food, highlighting the need for coordination between human and animal surveillance systems.”

Full protocol and results will be published on the WHO website by the end of May 2017.

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Global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to guide research, discovery, and development of new antibiotics. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/medicines/publications/WHO-PPL-Short_Summary_25Feb-ET_NM_WHO.pdf. Published February 27, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2017.