27 - 28 mars 2014
The Ethics of Antimicrobial Resistance Symposium
- Viens A.M., University of Southampton, Research Fellow
- Littmann Jasper, University College London, PhD Student
The rapid emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) over the past decades presents health care systems with serious challenges and threatens their ability to effectively treat serious bacterial infections. The term "antimicrobial resistance" describes “the ability of a bacterium to survive and even replicate during a course of antibiotic treatment with a specific antibiotic” (Mossialos & Morel, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, 2008). Currently, there is a lack of research into new drugs, resulting in a worrying depletion of the arsenal of effective antibiotics. This decrease in R&D is due to a number of reasons, including greater expected return on investment for pharmaceutical products that manage chronic conditions, the need for expensive basic research to develop novel action mechanisms for future classes of antibiotics, and the potential risk of a drug becoming ineffective before the expiry of patent protection, in the case of rapidly progressing AMR (Herrman & Laxminarayan, Annual Review of Resource Economics 4(2), 2010). As a result, for some types of bacteria only a single class of antibiotics remains effective, and recent developments have sparked fears that even these antibiotics of last-resort may soon become ineffective, rendering some bacterial infections essentially untreatable. This has prompted both the World Health Organization and the EU to warn of the dawn of a post-antibiotic age (Millar, J Med Ethics, 37(3), 2011). It is, however, not merely total drug resistance that is of concern. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more than 25.000 people a year in the EU alone, according to estimates from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC, The Bacterial Challenge: Time to react, 2009). AMR raises a number of ethical concerns, many of which relate to the fair distribution of an increasingly scarce resource, both within and across generations. However, since AMR has also led to the (re-)emergence of bacterial diseases, such as TB that are difficult to treat, ethical challenges also arise in the context of disease management and infection control, for example by enforcing treatment or isolation of contagious patients. While the topic of AMR is widely discussed in the medical literature, its ethical implications have so far received little attention. The proposed symposium would provide an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to come together and systematically address the normative complexities of one of the major social and bio-medical challenges of the 21st century.
Please find hereby the call for registration: