France releases €40m to fight antibiotic resistance

Resistance to antibiotics is becoming a big problem in France, researchers have said

The French government has released €40 million to help fund research into new antibiotics, as antibiotic resistance in France rises up the medical agenda.

Frédérique Vidal, minister for Higher Education and Research, announced the plans for extra budget today (November 14), at the inter-ministerial conference on antibiotic resistance in Paris.

Doctors and researchers have dubbed the search for new antibiotics as urgent, as more and more patients in France - and across the world - report a lack of effectiveness due to general overconsumption.

Estimates suggest that resistant bacteria could kill up to 2.4 million people by 2050 in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations if no action is taken.

In France, significant research is underway to address the problem. Medical research institute l’Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm) has launched a new unit at the Bichat hospital in Paris, dedicated to researching antibiotic resistance.

Professeur Jean-François Timsit said: “Now in France, there are a certain number of bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics. These antibiotics worked 30 years ago.

“Today, we have no more ideas. Therefore we are trying antibiotic cocktails - completely outside of the usual, outside of what has been proven - to try to improve things."

Even people who may not have taken antibiotics may develop a resistance today, due to contamination within food - such as chicken - or in their local environment.

Bacteriologist Étienne Ruppé said: “We know that a good number of chickens, in supermarkets, are contaminated with resistant bacteria. And do solid surfaces, such as in the Métro, play a role in spreading these bacteria too? We don’t really know."

He added: "There are [resistant] bacteria even among people who have never been to hospital, who haven't taken antibiotics, and who have not ever travelled."

According to researcher Xavier Lescure, who is conducting clinical trials to find new antibiotics, it can take 10 years to release a new antibiotic, from discovery to sale on to the market.

He said: “It can cost millions, even billions, of euros.”

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