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Update on antibacterial agents: current challenges and recent initiatives


G. P. S. G. Senadeera,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About G. P. S. G.
Department of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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S. Sri Ranganathan

University of Colombo, LK
About S. Sri
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine
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Antibacterial agents (ABAs) contribute significantly to reduce morbidity and mortality of bacterial infections as well as play a crucial role in the success of major advances in medicine such as organ transplants, advanced surgeries, cancer chemotherapy and cardiac surgery. However, their success as well as their very existence itself are under threat due to two major problems, one is antibacterial resistance (ABR) and the other is discovery void.


A 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that bacteria that cause common health-care associated and community-acquired infections exhibit high resistance rate in all WHO regions. This threat has been endorsed by many organizations including Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Infectious Diseases Society of America, and other UN bodies. Though bacteria can develop resistance spontaneously through mutation, the escalating public health threat of ABR is mainly driven by both appropriate and inappropriate use of ABAs in humans, animals, food production, agriculture, and aquaculture. Several initiatives at different levels have been launched to combat ABR.


Development of new ABAs which feature new target or mode of action by pharmaceutical industries has the potential to address the problem of ABR. However, hardly any new ABAs featuring new target or mode of action came to market in the last two decades due to economic and regulatory obstacles. Collaboration between industry, government bodies and academic institutions in the exploration of new ABAs, offering incentives, fast tracking market authorization are some of the initiatives recommended by the WHO to address this issue of dry antibiotic pipeline. Rational use of ABAs, implementation of antibiotic stewardship programmes, and adherence to strategies which minimise spread of resistant bacteria such as hand-washing and infection control measures are few key activities that can be incorporated in clinical practice.
How to Cite: Senadeera GPSG, Ranganathan SS. Update on antibacterial agents: current challenges and recent initiatives. Sri Lanka Journal of Surgery. 2017;35(4):23–8. DOI:
Published on 29 Dec 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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