Thirteen national science academies call on G8 to act on drug resistance threat

4 June 2013

In the run up to the G8 summit later this month the national science academies of the G8 member states and five other science academies are calling on the G8 nations to take action over two threats to human populations: drug-resistant infectious agents and sustainable development.

The academies’ statements will be handed to the participating governments before the summit on 17 and 18 June so that their recommendations can be incorporated into the negotiations.

Infectious agents that are resistant to drugs represent one of the greatest threats to the human population worldwide. People are increasingly being infected with resistant pathogens, and more and more often the drugs used to treat them, such as antibiotics, are not working. The academies also warn that the number of multi-drug-resistant infections acquired in hospital settings is on the rise. The rationale is described in the statement “Drug Resistance in Infectious Agents — A Global Threat to Humanity”.

“The development of drugs that can fight infectious diseases is one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine,” says Leopoldina President Prof. Jörg Hacker. “But in order for future generations to profit from this achievement, we urgently need to address the problem of drug resistance. New drugs cannot be developed over night, yet we are already faced with a growing number of patients infected with drug-resistant agents for whom no treatment is available. This presents all of society with a big challenge, and that is why this topic must be included on the political agenda.”

The academies recommend a more considered approach to current and future drugs, with strategies defined in guidelines issued by each G8 member, in order to ensure that these drugs remain effective for longer. The academies stress the importance of the following measures:

  • A more responsible approach to drug prescription for human use
  • Reduced use of antibiotics and other drugs in animal husbandry
  • Incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs to fight infectious disease, especially new antibiotics
  • Information and education programmes
  • A global system of control to combat the spread of resistant microorganisms

Sustainable development

In the statement “Driving Sustainable Development: the Role of Science, Technology and Innovation”, the academies explain how science and research can contribute to ensuring sustainable development. The statement asserts that many of the most pressing global challenges can only be met through a systematic approach and by including the global scientific community in the relevant processes. This is particularly true for population growth, the sustainable use of resources, and the supply of water, food and energy.

A further important prerequisite for sustainable development is improved literacy. The academies recommend promoting literacy across the globe, and advocate the importance of adopting a wider understanding of the term in this context to include scientific literacy, for example with regard to knowledge about nutrition and healthcare.

Since 2005 each year the national academies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the United States have worked together to produce joint, scientifically grounded statements on themes of relevance to the global community. The academies of the newly industrialised countries Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa are also involved alongside the academies of the G8 members. The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina represents German scientists within this group.

Further information

The G-Science Statements are available at:

In January, the Leopoldina published a national statement on “Antibiotic Research: Problems and Perspectives” in partnership with the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg.

The briefing paper is available at:


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