Superbugs: Diagnostic test makers think they have an answer

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Tuberculosis

The initiative has a particular focus on spotting the deadly combination of HIV and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. [M. tuberculosis image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Becton Dickinson and other diagnostic test makers have launched a global push to promote more testing, in the hopes of identifying antibiotic-resistant superbugs before they become a serious problem.

AdvaMedDx, a group that represents diagnostic test manufacturers, announced the initiative on Friday in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDs at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

“Diagnostic tests are an underutilized resource in the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” AdvaMedDx’s executive director Andrew Fish said in prepared remarks. “Today’s commitment is an important first step in helping to educate health care providers and patients on the value of diagnostic tests, improve access, reform regulatory barriers and create incentives to increase the use of these tests around the globe.”

Other companies that have signed on to support and promote the commitment include Abbott Laboratories, Bio-Rad, Hologic, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Philips Healthcare.

The commitment outlines several goals, such as building an economic case for diagnostics as an asset in the fight against drug-resistant infections and establishing public-private collaborations to bring about global access to diagnostics.

“Diagnostics often can identify the organism causing the infection and also can provide insight into the host’s immune response, thereby enabling health care providers to distinguish between infections requiring antimicrobial treatment and those that do not,” the initiative reads. “Once the infective organism has been identified, diagnostic tests also can determine which specific antimicrobials are effective and can guide the physician in appropriate therapeutic choice and dosage.”

The initiative has a particular focus on spotting the deadly combination of HIV and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis.

“We must galvanize action in both private and public sectors to accelerate the uptake of diagnostics, including for HIV and TB testing and treatment monitoring,” UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé said. “Quality care, including timely diagnosis, should be ensured for everyone to save lives and to prevent widespread resistance. This is essential if we are to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.3 including ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

Diagnostic testing is underutilized, AdvaMedDx’s committment said, citing treatment of infections in developing countries without the use of diagnostic tests, which can ultimately contribute to unnecessary antibiotic use.

At least 30% of antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. are unnecessary, while the percentage is estimated to be even higher in the rest of the world.

“The adoption and innovation of diagnostic tests is now more important than ever,” BD chairman, president & CEO Vincent Forlenza. “As an early supporter of this effort, we’re committed to partnering with other organizations and health care providers in an effort to improve access to this life-saving technology.”

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