Ensuring innovation in diagnostics for bacterial infection. Implications for policy. (Observatory Studies Series; 44)
(2016; 338 pages)


The inappropriate use of antibiotics is a primary cause of the ongoing increase in drug resistance amongst pathogenic bacteria. The resulting decrease in the efficacy of antibiotics threatens the ability to combat infectious diseases. Rapid, point-of-care tests to identify pathogens and better target the appropriate treatment could greatly improve the use of antibiotics, yet few such tests are available or being developed, despite the rapid pace of medical innovation. Clearly, something is inhibiting the much-needed development of new and more convenient diagnostic tools.

This study delineates priorities for developing diagnostics to improve antibiotic prescription and use, in order to manage and curb the expansion of drug resistance. It calls for new approaches, particularly in the provision of diagnostic devices, and, in doing so, outlines some of the inadequacies in health, science and policy initiatives that have led to the dearth of such devices. The authors make the case that innovation is clearly and urgently needed, not only in the technology of diagnosis but also in public policy and medical practice to support the availability and use of better diagnostic tools.

This book explores the complexities of the diagnostics market from the perspective of both supply and demand, unearthing interesting bottlenecks: some obvious, some more subtle. It calls for a broad, multifaceted policy response, and an overhaul of current practice, so that the growth of bacterial resistance can be stemmed.

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