AMR: Perils and Progress

After Helen Boucher, MD, gave the Maxwell Finland presentation she spoke of the continuing issues as well as the encouraging aspects that have institutions working on the problem.


A global analysis published in The Lancet back in January estimated that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was the leading cause of death worldwide in 2019.

The study’s investigators estimated that resistance itself caused 1.27 million deaths in 2019, and that antimicrobial-resistant infections played a role in 4.95 million deaths. In comparison, mortality for HIV/AIDS and malaria have been estimated to be 860,000 and 640,000 deaths, respectively that same year.

Those numbers are daunting.

On the treatment frontlines, AMR continues to be challenging for clinicians as they see resistance more quickly in antimicrobials as well as a limited antibiotic pipeline.

This latter concern was voiced by Helen Boucher, MD, dean ad interim and professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and chief academic officer of the Tufts Medicine Health System in her Maxwell Finland presentation at the IDWeek 2022 conference. She reminded the audience it had been almost four years since the last antimicrobial had been approved in the United States.

Fresh off her presentation, “Running to Stand Still: Progress and Perils with AMR,” Boucher sat down to speak with Contagion.

“The good news is we have made some progress; less good, we have a long way to go, and the time to act is now,” Boucher said.

Along with the aforementioned issues, Boucher also sees the lack of surveillance as being a major issue. “We have a lot of progress to make in places like surveillance, really knowing how bad the problem is. In America we don’t have the data we need to understand that.”

Although sounding a clarion call, Boucher also sees some of the positive aspects where progress is being made especially in institutions with infection prevention. Contagion spoke to Boucher who offered her insights into both the positive steps as well as the major challenges that remain.

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