WHO releases first ever list of priority antibiotics

Musakanya Chingandu

On March 23, 2023, the WHO released the first-ever list of priority antibiotics to be developed in age-appropriate formulations for children and infants. The PADO priority list includes antibiotics that are essential for treating common bacterial infections in children.

Pneumonia has been identified as one of the bacterial infections that contribute greatly to worldwide mortality for children under the age of five, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Severe pneumonia in the hospital setting is treated with injectable antibiotics, with the WHO recommending penicillin and gentamicin.

Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, also known as co-amoxiclav, is used to treat several infections in children, including urinary tract infections and skin and soft tissue infections. The liquid syrup formulation is on the WHO Essential Medicines List for children. Previous studies on the drug have shown it to be safe, well tolerated, with well recognised side effects. Dispersible tablet (DT) formulations of co-amoxiclav, which are recommended by the WHO as the optimal child friendly formulation, are not on the WHO Essential Medicines List. Co-amoxiclav was one of the antibiotics recommended by the GAP-f panel to be included in the Paediatric Antibiotic list for development of the evidence for a child friendly appropriate formulation.

As you know, co-amoxicillin DT’s are being investigated in the Pedi-CAP trial. Their inclusion in the WHO list priority formulation list is an external validation of the importance of the study.  We look forward to the completion of PediCAP A and B, which will provide key information to the WHO.