Researchers Up the Ante to Contain Prevalence of HAIs, Report Indicates

With the incidence of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) taking on alarming proportions and the medical fraternity evincing helplessness in combating this trend, there is an urgent need to initiate measures to curb this menace, asserts a new report from Frost & Sullivan. This new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, "Hospital Infection Based Control Technologies -- R&D Management" indicates that hospitals are considered the last resort for healthcare; however, the threat of HAI looms large, compromising the safety of patients. Pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to spend enormous amounts of money to develop antibiotics that last for a very short duration due to the multidrug-resistant nature of pathogens. Governments need to take an active part in curbing and implementing guidelines and ensuring compliance from hospitals and hospital care settings.

The report also finds that pathogens have become multidrug-resistant and pose a threat, especially to infants and the ever-expanding patient base of those in the above-65 age group. Open travel and multiculturalism in recent times have expedited the rate at which HAIs spread.

"On the research front there are companies striving to come up with tools to diagnose HAI epidemics as fast as possible," says Technical Insights senior research analyst Prasannavadhana Kannan. "However in the core segment, there is evidence of a slow shift from antibiotics to bacteriophages, which are suitable alternatives owing to their low-cost overheads, high effectiveness and environment friendly characteristics."

There is significant need to identify multidrug-resistant species, quantify the infectious titer in certain important specimens and detect broad-spectrum and critical mechanisms of resistance instantly. As for phage therapy (bacteriophages), there might be a point in the future when phages will be less effective to the pathogens compared to when they were first developed. However, bacteriophages are readily available in nature and they have been evolving over billions of years with bacterial strains. Phage preparation upgrades happen by replacing or including phages isolated from the environment. On the contrary, antibiotics become stuck with their core molecule. Developing a new drug requires huge R&D efforts and overhead to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria.

"This market has been pretty much neglected by the top-tier pharmaceutical companies," says Technical Insights senior research analyst Saju John Mathew. "Although there are organizations to address this situation and alarm bells have been sounded, implementation is still a far cry."

The report says that global bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) need to take stern action in creating awareness and implementing infection control measures in developing countries. Research institutes must strive to introduce novel drugs to fight the existing battery of pathogens. Care to intensify prevention measures on local, regional and national levels should be encouraged for incidences to reduce drastically.

The government should also take firm steps to boost bacteriophage research so that there is at least an alternative to rely on if the normal drug pattern falls short of expectations. Awareness campaigns must be unleashed to instill the values of personal hygiene. Handwashing compliance can reduce pathogen outbreak by a huge margin. On its part, the government should ensure that healthcare insurance accommodates hospital errors and HAIs.

Physicians should be responsible for the condition of their patients. New companies can gain entry into this market by developing alternatives to tackle HAIs and bringing out new products for clean, safe and effective sanitizing. The government should take bold steps to ease patent laws to encourage new entrants to venture into bacteriophage research.

The report, "Hospital Infection Based Control Technologies -- R&D Management," a part of the Technical Insights subscription, provides an analysis of the current scenario with respect to the hospital-acquired infections environment. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters and research services.