Canada Needs
Action on Antibiotics

Share Your Thoughts and Help Prevent the Next Health Crisis

Resistance to antibiotics and other drugs is an emerging threat to global public health. Find out how Canada can prevent a large-scale crisis and ensure access to the antibiotics we need today, and tomorrow, by learning more and taking the survey below.

What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

Antibiotics and other antimicrobials are common drugs prescribed to treat a wide range of infectious diseases – but as viruses evolve, our treatments need to as well. When bacteria evolve to the point that these existing drugs are no longer capable of killing them, it can result in infections that are resistant to treatment, often with lethal consequences. This is known as Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Drug resistant infections are responsible for 1.27M deaths worldwide each year †

† Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis

New research revealed that of 18 novel antibiotics approved and commercially launched in 14 high-income countries over the past 10 years, only two have been introduced in Canada — the fewest of any country on the list.

‡ Patient Access in 14 High-Income Countries to New Antibacterials Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency, Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, or Health Canada, 2010-2020

Why Is This Important?

Canadian Patient Access to New Antibiotics Compared to Other Countries

Canada Needs New Antibiotics

Antimicrobials are essential to our health – if we don’t recognize that now and ensure there’s an effective plan in place to minimize the risk of resistance emerging and maximize protection of patient health, we put our entire health system at risk.

In Canada we’re still using antibiotics developed decades ago to treat new forms of viruses that have just emerged today.

The global health community is calling on all countries to do their part in committing to a clear roadmap for rewarding the development of new antimicrobial drugs with economic incentives. Antimicrobial resistance is a considerable threat to public health, but a large-scale crisis is preventable and access to the antibiotics Canadians need today, and tomorrow, is possible through collaboration and swift investment and action by government. But right now, when it comes to development and innovation in this space, the differences between countries can be glaring.

What’s The Solution?

As a leading developing country with a long history of healthcare innovation that includes the discovery of insulin, it’s unacceptable that we’re not already at the forefront of this issue. As others step up to take action, we’re falling behind on R&D investment. In every ministerial mandate letter since 2019 the Canadian government has included the need to address AMR – but we’ve seen no plan of action to show for it.

Implementation and development of a framework for robust investment will ensure patients are protected and getting the appropriate antibiotic treatment.

New & Innovative Antimicrobials Are Essential to Protecting Canadian Health

Protect against future resistance

Protect against infectious disease outbreaks

Access to the right antibiotic for treatment

Keeping hospitals safe from transmission

Patient safety during medical procedures

No one, including Canada, was prepared for the last global health crisis. When and if the next pandemic knocks on Canada’s door, we must be ready with the medicines needed to protect the health of all Canadians.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about antimicrobials, resistance, or how Canada can take action? Check out the most frequently asked questions below.

Q: What are antimicrobials?

A: Antimicrobials are one of the most important discoveries in medical history. They include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics, which are the medicines we use to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.

Q: What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes – bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi – develop resistance against medicines, such as antibiotics that were previously able to cure them. These resistant microbes are colloquially known as ‘superbugs.’

Q: Why do Canadians need to worry about AMR?

Research prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that already more than a quarter of infections in Canada are resistant to the first line of antibiotics. Today, several new antibiotics — drugs that microbes have not yet learned to evade — have been approved for use in other jurisdictions but remain unavailable to Canadian patients.

Q: Why do we have such outdated drugs to treat infections?

There are several reasons, including: barriers to research and development due to the cost and that Canada is considered a relatively small market by pharmaceutical companies and as such, fewer drugs are introduced and approved here because the return on investment is not considered to be there. However, many countries around the globe are considering policies to help incentivize the research and development of new antibiotics and Canada should too.  

Q: Does Canada currently have a plan to address this?

Canada recognized the threat of AMR and the urgent need for action with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s release of a Pan-Canadian Framework For Action for Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use in 2017. The Canadian government has also included the need to address AMR in every ministerial mandate letter since 2019. What we’re missing is a plan of action.


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