The pharmaceutical industry should develop more antibiotics to fight multidrug-resistant bacteria, a new report by the European Centre For Disease Prevention And Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) said.

The report, prepared ahead of the ‘Innovative Incentives for Effective Antibacterials’ conference taking place in Sweden, said that there is a gap between the amount of infections due to multidrug-resistant bacteria and the development of new antibiotics to tackle the problem.

The EU call for research is based on the 2008 ECDC-EMEA joint working ‘The bacterial challenge – time to react’ report that said each year multi-resistant bacteria account for around 25,000 patients deaths in the EU and result in extra healthcare costs and productivity losses of at least €1.5bn each year.

Despite the high numbers of deaths the report identified only 15 new antibacterial agents under development with the potential to meet the challenge of multidrug resistance.

Of these, only two agents in development use new targets or mechanisms of action against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.

ECDC study spokesperson Dominique Monnet said that a future without effective antibiotics will exacerbate the situation.

“Patients suffering from healthcare-associated infections will be particularly hard hit,” Monnet said.

The report also said that resistance levels of bacteria that can cause serious infections to antibiotics was as high as 25% in some EU member states. In addition, resistance to antibiotics is high among Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and the resistance level is increasing.