AMR is a ‘major problem,’ say 90% of infectious disease physicians and pharmacists

Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, is considered a “major problem” by 90% of infectious disease physicians and pharmacists, finds a new survey by the Sepsis Alliance.

AMR is among the list of the top ten global public health threats humanity is facing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Conducted by Radius Global Market Research in September 2022, Sepsis Alliance’s survey included more than 150 infectious disease (ID) physicians and pharmacists “who have practiced medicine for at least one year to determine their knowledge of AMR, their institution’s AMR education, and their views on what might help lessen the global burden of AMR.”

The other issues these doctors and pharmacists consider significant problems related to infectious disease include:

“Antimicrobial resistance is primarily driven by inappropriate antibiotic use, the lack of new antimicrobials, the lack of complete uptake of vaccinations, and partial completion of antibiotics by patients,” said the Sepsis Alliance’s Chief Medical Officer and Infection Control Officer, Cindy Hou, DO.

As contributors to AMR, these factors “need to be considered when discussing AMR and necessary interventions,” she noted.

AMR challenges sepsis treatment

As we previously reported, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, “more than 29,400 individuals died from antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections in 2020.” However, the real number is likely much higher since “data for half of the 18 pathogens that are considered risks are either not available or is taking a long time to come in.”

And yet, “only 52% of adults worldwide are aware of the term and fewer understand the potential effects of AMR,” the Sepsis Alliance says on its website.

In addition, AMR seriously challenges the treatment of sepsis, “the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection” and “one of the most significant health complications that can result from AMR.”

Dr. Hou points to another issue complicating the situation: hospital-acquired infections, saying “one in every 31 hospitalized patients has at least one hospital-acquired infection each day, and any of these can lead to life-threatening sepsis.”

She emphasized the need for “engagement with tackling hospital-acquired sepsis as a means to reduce the chances of patients acquiring multi-drug resistant pathogens.”

Solutions for the AMR problem

The survey shows a very high level of assumed responsibility for solving AMR among ID physicians and pharmacists, with 96% agreeing ”they are very- or somewhat- responsible for solving AMR.”

However, “only 54% are involved in efforts to improve hospital-acquired sepsis” even though “over 90% have received AMR training.”

CDC noted the same problem, pointing out that though “antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs) can help clinicians improve clinical outcomes and minimize harms by improving antibiotic prescribing… more than half of antibiotic prescribing for selected events in hospitals was not consistent with recommended prescribing practices.”

Another issue is limited patient education, which 32% of respondents pointed out as a barrier to resolving AMR, underscoring that “only 10% of facilities currently provide patient education.”

According to Sepsis Alliance President and CEO Thomas Heymann, “equipping patients to be their own advocates through informed decision-making of antibiotic guidelines… will reduce the burden of AMR and improve outcomes.”

As for the proposed solutions for the problem, 90% of the respondents believe AMR could be improved by decreasing the inappropriate use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, whereas 65% see the answer in improved rapid diagnostics, which could also “contribute to a decrease in the inappropriate utilization of broad-spectrum antibiotics.”

Dr. Hou said infectious disease physicians and pharmacists look “for stronger tools to combat AMR,” emphasizing the importance of the proposed PASTEUR Act, which would “increase the availability of new antimicrobials…by encouraging the development of new drugs and protecting the ones we already have.”

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