South Korea addresses AMR in manufacturing

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has been addressed at Seoul conference as the government takes action

Centrient Pharmaceuticals, an experienced sustainable antibiotics manufacturer, in partnership with Indian Institute of Technology - Delhi, organised a workshop on ‘Sustainability Through Excellence in Manufacturing’ (STEM) in Seoul. The workshop imparted training and education on advanced clean and sustainable manufacturing techniques for pharmaceuticals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as one of the top ten threats to public health worldwide. According to the AMR Review (2014), nearly 700,000 people die each year from it, and by 2050, this number is projected to reach 10 million per year unless strong actions against the drivers of AMR are taken.

Next to misuse and overuse of antibiotics, environmental factors like release of inadequately treated antibiotic manufacturing effluent into the environment play an important role in the development of drug-resistant ‘superbugs’.

Environmental factors likely release inadequately treated antibiotic manufacturing effluent into the environment playing an important role in the development of drug-resistant ‘superbugs

Tim Rutten, Business Director of Asia-Pacific and Africa at Centrient Pharmaceuticals said: “To effectively tackle AMR, a ‘One Health’ approach with multi-sectoral involvement is required, with governments, civil society, and industry playing their part.”

“At Centrient Pharmaceuticals, we believe that the pharmaceutical industry needs to take the lead to ensure antibiotics are produced sustainably and to prevent the release of effluent containing antimicrobial activity into the environment,” Rutten explained. “Advanced technologies and processes are available to remove antibiotic residues from pharmaceutical waste. Through STEM workshops, we aim to share expertise with our industry partners to jointly raise the bar and combat AMR.”

"Sustainable production is achievable and needs to be recognised as one of the three principles in the fight against AMR," said Karl Rotthier, CEO of Centrient Pharmaceuticals

The three principles in the fight against AMR:

  1. TAKE antibiotics only when needed and exactly as prescribed (by patients)
  2. MAKE antibiotics in a sustainable way by adopting emission targets (by manufacturers)
  3. BUY antibiotics only from responsible sources to ensure a clean supply chain (by procurers)

South Korea

A WHO report revealed that overuse of antibiotics was a major factor contributing to resistance in South Korea, with an average of 28 defined daily doses (DDD) being used per 1000 people in 2015, higher than other developed countries.

Over the past years, South Korea has made advancements in AMR containment and in 2016, launched its National Action Plan on AMR (2016-2020) in line with the One Health approach. Besides promoting prudent use of antibiotics, Korea’s National Action Plan focuses on strengthening the surveillance system, which is expected to impact monitoring of environmental factors of AMR as well.

The South Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention established a customised surveillance system for South Korea, called Kor-GLASS, in 2016, which is now being scaled-up.

Prof Anurag S Rathore, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, said: “Adoption of advanced technological innovation is needed to ensure that pharmaceutical manufacturing becomes sustainable and does not contribute to the rise in AMR. Since Korea is a manufacturer as well as consumer of antibiotics, training of representatives of pharmaceutical companies can help address multiple facets of the issue. The STEM workshops introduce participants to clean manufacturing and waste management practices to reduce antibiotic pollution, which can eventually also be scaled up to other sectors.”

To further R&D, by 2017, Korea had allocated funds worth €65 million to AMR related research, including developing new-age antimicrobials and modernisation of livestock and poultry management systems to eliminate non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.