Greg Frank, PhD, director of Working to Fight AMR and director of infectious disease policy at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, sees the COVID-19 outbreak as potentially an issue related to antimicrobial resistance. 

“Much of our modern medical care is reliant on antibiotics,” Dr Frank said in an interview with Drug Topics®.

“Everyday these products keep patients safe and enable those medicines and interventions to work. What they do is prompt an evolutionary response from our adversaries, where these bugs can develop mechanisms to resist these drugs, and render them ineffective. In practice, when you have a resistant infection, some portion of our arsenal of microbials will be ineffective to that patient. What we’re seeing now is increasingly, there are now patients infected with bugs that are resistant to everything we have. The danger we have is that as resistance rates continue to go up, and they are only going up, we’ll reach a point where many modern medical procedures will be too risky to perform, and anyone can have an infection that can end their life.”

Concerning the current pandemic, Dr. Frank said that data is limited when considering the antimicrobial relevance. He cited other viral respiratory diseases – the flu in particular – that have very high rates of patients contracting a secondary bacterial infection.

“The majority of influenza deaths here in the US are due to those secondary bacterial infections, not necessarily the flu by itself,” Frank said.

Studies from China show a portion of the patients–especially those who have to be put on ventilators– are at risk for secondary infections. 

The FDA aims to keep the public’s safety a priority through the urgency of finding an effective coronavirus treatment. In last Thursday’s presidential press briefing, Hahn said, “Let me make one thing clear: The FDA’s responsibility to the American people is to ensure that products are safe and effective.”

More from Drug Topics here.