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Rapid diagnosis tool will solve antibiotic crisis, says expert

23 October 2015

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The solution to antimicrobial resistance is developing a rapid diagnosis tool, a government review has recommended today.

The report, led by economic expert Jim O’Neill (pictured), deemed the use of antibiotics in the UK “wasteful” leading to “massive costs” and “health risks for the near future”.

It recommended that government focuses on developing rapid diagnosis tools for bacterial infections, which would be cost-saving and save GP appointments as a first ‘screening’ for bacterial infections could be done in pharmacies.

“Rapid diagnostic tools for bacterial infections, which allow doctors to identify the nature of an infection in minutes instead of hours or days, have the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment process from an empirical one to a precise one,” it said.

The test would quickly tell the health professional if the infection is bacterial or viral, what type of bacteria is causing it, and whether it is resistant or susceptible to antibiotics or existing drugs.

“Ultimately what we want are high quality, affordable rapid diagnostics that can be rolled out as widely as possible,” the report read.

However, the health experts admit that finding the tool to do this “has proved a very difficult technical challenge, with no perfect tool to answer it rapidly and conclusively to date”, and that for progress within five years, “healthcare systems need to leapfrog to using rapid diagnostics wherever possible, before using an antibiotic.”

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