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European Biopharmaceutical Review

A Multifaceted Global Approach to Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in infectious diseases is a major threat to human health. When microbes are exposed to antimicrobials, those that are most resistant to the antimicrobial’s effects are also most likely to survive and multiply (1). While acquiring AMR is a natural adaptation in microbes, human mediated misuse and overuse of antimicrobials make AMR more likely. For example, hospitals create especially high-risk conditions for the evolution and transmission of treatment-resistant diseases because pathogenic microorganisms are likely to be exposed to antimicrobial drugs and encounter people susceptible to infection.

However, AMR can evolve wherever microbes are exposed to antimicrobials, especially in food production, where antimicrobial use is nearly triple that in medicine (2). Simultaneously, the risk of pathogens acquiring AMR is heightened by habitat disturbance and climate change (3). As a consequence, the emergence and transmission of AMR has become a public health threat. There is substantial concern that the evolution of AMR in an existing or novel pathogen could trigger the next global-scale pandemic (4).

The problem of AMR crosses geographic, political, and social boundaries. Additionally, there are many interlocking factors that contribute to its emergence and spread, including agricultural, healthcare, and public health practices. With so many facets to a problem that spans the globe, mitigation will require unprecedented collaboration and coordination among governments, industries, and advocacy groups. This article will provide a brief overview of the key contributors to AMR, and prospects for improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention going forward.

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Dr Caroline Forkin brings 26 years’ experience in clinical, pharma, and global health settings, including extensive experience in Africa. With a clinical background in infectious diseases, Caroline’s experience in Africa included senior roles as HIV/AIDS Advisor for both the World Bank and the Irish Government. These roles involved working with the Mozambican Ministry of Health, National AIDS Council, together with other global health entities, such as the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Caroline’s pharma experience prior to joining ICON includes country medical lead for two biotech companies. Her role at ICON is Vice President for Clinical Research Services, with responsibility for all its studies in Africa and the Middle East.
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Dr Caroline Forkin
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