GP Clinics


WHO Publishes List of Antibiotic-Resistant “Priority Pathogens”

The World Health Organization released its first ever report identifying 12 antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.The Global Priority List of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria was designed to guide research and funding on new antibiotic treatments and ensure that developments would address growing global resistance and meet public health needs. Until now, research and development for antibiotics has been largely influenced by market factors, such as perceived medical needs, pressure from investors, market size, and availability of specific technologies, according to the report.

"Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time," said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny the Assistant Director- General for Health Systems and Innovation at WHO.2 Seventy experts assisted in the selection and ranking process, prioritizing the bacteria using both expert opinion and evidence-based data. Twelve antibiotic resistant bacteria families were identified out of a proposed 20, and were ranked with 3 tiers: critical, high, and medium.

Among the bacteria identified:

  • Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacteriaceae were ranked as critical priority. All 3 strains are resistant to carbapenem.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (fluoroquinolone and methicillin resistant), Enterococcus faecium (vancomycin resistant),Neisseria gonorrhoeae (fluoroquinolone and 3rd generation cephalosporin resistant), and Salmonella spp. (fluoroquinolone resistant) were ranked as high priority.
  • Haemophilus influenza (ampicillin resistant), Shigella spp.(fluoroquinolone resistant), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (penicillin resistant) were ranked as medium priority. “Future [research and development]
  • strategies should focus on the discovery and development of new antibiotics specifically active against multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria,” the report stated.

In addition, the report recommended antibiotic stewardship programs, developing in-fection control, and other methods for maintaining public health, such as implementing vaccination and sanitation programs.

1. Tacconelli E, Magrini N. Global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to guide research, discovery, and development of new antibiotics. World Health Organization. medicines/publications/WHO-PPL-Short_Summary_25Feb-ET_NM_WHO.pdf?ua=1. Published February 25, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2017.
2. WHO publishes list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed [press release]. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; February 27, 2017.